Cheik Tiote has warned Newcastle fans not to expect him to follow in the footsteps of Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse by returning to the Sports Direct Arena early from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Senegal’s early exit from the tournament means that both Cisse and Ba could feature in Newcastle’s midweek fixture against Blackburn.
However Tiote and the Ivory Coast look set to go a long way after winning their opening two fixtures of the competition, with their qualification for the knock-out stages already sealed with a game to spare.
The combative midfielder said he was glad Senegal were knocked out of the competition so early because of the boost it handed Alan Pardew’s side, but said he was hoping his spell away from the North East continues all the way to the final.
“It helps us that Senegal are out because they have a lot of good players,” The Northern Echo quote the Ivorian as saying.
“We have to think about that. It shows the African Cup is different. It’s not like the Premiership or the French league. It’s very difficult.
“We have to stay focused and if we do that we can win. Before the tournament Demba said to me that I would be back before him, but now he has to go back and I’m still at the Cup of Nations.
“It’s good for Newcastle because they’ve two great strikers, but they’ll have to wait for me."
Newcastle’s form has suffered a dip in recent weeks after initially performing well in the absence of their African stars, with Saturday’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Brighton coming a week after their 5-2 defeat against Fulham.
Both Ba and Cisse have yet to be confirmed as available for Wednesday’s encounter against Blackburn, with Pardew admitting he has ‘no idea’ if they will be cleared to return in time.