Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has reluctantly left midfielder Cheick Tiote to sulk his way through the final weeks of the season after deciding not to risk another ban.
Pardew will not play the Ivory Coast international at Chelsea on Sunday and will almost certainly leave him out of the final-day clash with West Brom after he collected his 14th booking of the season against Birmingham last weekend.
A 15th would land the former FC Twente player a fourth ban of the campaign - he has already missed six games, five of them under his current boss - and rule him out of the start of the new season.
Tiote was desperate to play against the Blues - he has previously spoken of his admiration for Ghana international Michael Essien - but Pardew insists he has little choice but to leave him out.
The manager said: "He wants to play. He's not happy and he will probably go home and sulk.
"No one is more disappointed than me. I love the boy and I want him to play, but I can't afford to miss him for two games next year, I just can't.
"He misses this one and he will probably miss West Brom - that will be eight games for me and I can't afford that.
"We have had Hatem (Ben Arfa) out all year and we lost Andy Carroll, so to have Cheick missing for eight games is a hell of a handicap to carry, and we have done it really, really well as a group. We have been terrific.
"But at some point, you need your best players on the pitch and he is one of my best players. That's something we have definitely got to sort out next year."
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