CHEIK Tiote is back up to speed at Newcastle United – and determined to drive the club onwards and upwards.
Tiote and his team-mates take on Blackburn Rovers at St James’s Park tomorrow looking to consolidate their position in the top four of the Premier League.
The midfielder, by his own admission, had a slow start to the campaign.
However, the 25-year-old had his best game yet at in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
“The start of the season wasn’t easy for me, as I wasn’t fit,” Tiote said.
“I feel fit now, and I’m happy. I feel better now. I feel good, and need to continue.”
Tiote’s been getting used to his new midfield colleague, summer signing Yohan Cabaye.
The Ivory Coast international forged an powerful partnership with Kevin Nolan last season.
While Nolan was happy to break forward at every opportunity, Cabaye, a technically-gifted player with quick feet and a quicker mind, has played a deeper role so far at his new club.
And tough-tackling Tiote feels they complement each other.
“We played well together (against Villa), and I think he’s a good partner for me,” said Tiote.
“It was a good game – we played well, and I think we deserved to win. Last week was a great game.
“Last season with Kevin was different – it was a different style. He went forward and scored more goals, while Yohan’s a technical player. They’re both good players.
“The most important part of the team is the midfield – you have to win in midfield.”
Blackburn are looking to extend an incredible sequence of results at St James’s Park, having won on their last five visits to the stadium.
However, having gone seven league and cup games unbeaten so far this season, Tiote’s confident Newcastle can claim their third win of the campaign.
Tiote went on: “I think everybody’s ready for Blackburn.
“We’re focused on doing everything to win this game - it’s a home game, and we can’t lose it.
“I think we’re in a good position, and we have to stay like this. If we win on Saturday, it would be great.
“It’s a good moment for us. We need to stay focused and together.”