CHEIK Tiote has been told to carry on tackling – despite the threat of another ban.
The Newcastle United midfielder faces Wigan Athletic at St James’s Park tonight knowing one more booking will see him suspended for a game.
Tiote has already served two suspensions this season, totalling four matches.
Manager Alan Pardew has previously admitted Tiote’s dismissal against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light “affected” him.
And the Ivory Coast international has struggled for consistency given his frequent absences.
However, Pardew – whose side is struggling after four successive defeats – doesn’t believe Tiote is trying to change his game.
In any case, he’s told him to keep on putting his foot in.
Asked if Tiote was trying to remodel himself as a player, Pardew said: “I don’t think he is. He can only be himself. We have to take what punishment comes his way.
“He’s an aggressive player, and tackles can sometimes be mistimed. I think that’s natural.
“You can’t change his game. 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.”
United need character on and off the pitch given the situation they find themselves in. And Tiote is one of the first names on Pardew’s teamsheet.
“Even Cheik’s worst performance for us is usually enough to keep him in the team,” added Pardew.
“That’s how important he is. I think we’ve got the best of Cheik to come, for sure.
“He had a lot of games last year, and against 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.”
Pardew has fit-again striker Shola Ameobi back in the squad, but utility player James Perch is suspended for the game following Wednesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Stoke.
Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Steven Taylor (hamstring) are both out until February.
“Without harping on, we have a treatment room full of great players,” added Pardew.
“There’s no a lot of change that can be made to the team – we’re going from week to week.”