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The Ivory Coast international has returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty to find Moussa Sissoko and a more-advanced James Perch ahead of him, but he welcomes the new competition

Newcastle midfielder Cheikh Tiote is aware that the club’s January additions means his first-team spot is under threat heading into the final 12 games of the season.

The Ivorian, normally an automatic starter under Alan Pardew, has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations to find recent signing Moussa Sissoko, who has become a fans' favourite after only three games, preferred alongside James Perch and Yohan Cabaye.

However, Tiote understands the club’s new-found balance and strength is of far more importance than his starting berth.

"It was nice to be back because I was away for one month but now I am back and I have to do my best to help the team," he told the club’s official website.

"The squad has changed since I have been away and it was good for us to sign some new players because now we have much more strength in the squad and more balance as well. That can only be a good thing.

"I cannot just come straight back in. The team have been doing well while I was away and got a couple of really good wins.

"All that matters is the team, not who is playing. If we are winning games then you cannot expect to just come back and play from the start."

Newcastle were bettered by a superb double from the in-form Gareth Bale after Yoann Gouffran's first goal for the club looked set to give Pardew's relegation strugglers a point, one that Tiote believes would have been well deserved.

"We played well and I think we deserved a little bit more, maybe a draw," he explained.

"It was a tough game and it is never easy to play here, so I thought we did well but conceding the second goal was disappointing.

"We fought hard and worked hard though and on another day might have got something more."

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