CHEIK Tiote is heading for his first suspension of the season – and Alan Pardew admits he can’t afford to be without him.
The Newcastle United midfielder picked up his third booking of the season last weekend.
And the 25-year-old is now just two yellow cards away from an automatic one-game ban.
Tiote was outstanding in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, the tough-tackling Ivory Coast international again a powerhouse in midfield.
However, Pardew was frustrated at the booking he picked up for a needless foul on Luka Modric.
While Pardew doesn’t want to curb Tiote’s competitive instinct, he’s keen for him to stay out of referees’ notebooks.
Tiote missed SIX games last season through suspension, having been booked a record-equalling 14 times, and dismissed once in United’s FA Cup defeat at Stevenage.
“I haven’t tried to change him, but we’ve tried to cut out some silly ones,” Pardew said.
“Sunday’s could probably have been avoided – he lost his head a little bit – but he’s going to from time to time.
“He’s got that competitive nature, and I’m not going to try and take that out of him.
“He’s in the top three of our best players. We want him to play every game, but he needs to have good discipline to do that.
“He’s trying to do it. We’re working with him.”