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The Newcastle boss suggested the midfielder's combative streak had its risks but is happy to let the Ivory Coast international play his natural game

Alan Pardew has praised the tenacity of Newcastle's Cheikh Tiote despite the midfielder inching towards a suspension ahead of Monday's home match against Wigan.

The Ivory Coast international is a booking away from a one-match suspension, having earlier received a three-match ban for his red card against Sunderland.

He has struggled to consistently play for the Magpies this season, halted by persistent knee injuries as well as the four matches he was suspended for.

Pardew refused to single him out for criticism however, and when asked if the combative midfielder was trying to change his style replied: "No, I don’t think he is. He can only be himself.

"We have to take what punishment comes his way," he told reporters. "He’s an aggressive player, and tackles can sometimes be mistimed. I think that’s natural. You can’t change his game.
CHEIKH-ING UP THE LATICS
22/1 Cheikh Tiote is 22/1 with bet365 to score the first goal of the game as Newcastle take on Wigan tonight

"What he can do is pick up silly bookings for little pulls, or talking back to referees, or getting involved with another player off the ball, which he has done in the past. At the minute, that’s all under control.”

The manager went as far as to praise his attitude and influence on the team, and continued: “Even Cheikh’s worst performance for us is usually enough to keep him in the team.

"That’s how important he is. I think we’ve got the best of Cheikh to come, for sure.

"He had a lot of games last year, and again African Cup of Nations qualifiers this year, as well as the games we’ve played.

"It’s been a tough run. Then there was the suspension. He hasn’t had any consistency. That, hopefully, will come now with a run of games."

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