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Newcastle Club Focus - Magpies look forward to Tiote return

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By James Hedley

Friday 17 February 2012

Newcastle are without a game at the weekend as the FA Cup returns to action once again. There will be an air of frustration that the Magpies are no longer involved in the competition given their form and the absence of the two Manchester clubs. It also means that the players must even wait even longer to get back onto the pitch and put the 5-0 defeat at Tottenham behind them. Their next match against Wolves has taken on a different dynamic following the sacking of manager Mick McCarthy. The likelihood is that a new manager will be appointed before next Saturday, so the opposition will have a point to prove.

The Magpies can at least look forward to the return of Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote following their absence from recent games. Tiote has not played since the start of January and the club have really missed his combative presence in the centre of the park. It is unlikely that Newcastle would have conceded five goals in two separate games if the Ivorian was still in the team. In his absence Alan Pardew has tried a number of different combinations with varying degrees of success. Players such as James Perch, Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor have all played out of position in central midfield at various times since the turn of the year. Tiote will have to quickly pick himself up from the disappointment of seeing his national side once again fail to win the African Cup of Nations.

Striker Shola Ameobi is determined to fight for his place despite falling down the pecking order in recent matches. The signing of Demba Papiss Cisse means that Ameobi will feature in fewer games than earlier on in the season. With Demba Ba and Leon Best also ahead of him in the pecking order Ameobi may have to move on if he wants to become a regular starter. In an interview with the Northern Echo he said: "I wouldn't have signed a contract at the start of the season if I wasn't going to be happy with fighting for a place. I know the manager wants competition for places and I understood that when I signed my contract, it can only be good for us and for the manager that players are fighting for places.”

Although never the most prolific of strikers, Ameobi has suffered from a barren spell this campaign with just the one goal all season. With Best also short of goals it was no surprise that Pardew decided to bring in another striker to take some of the scoring weight of Demba Ba’s shoulders.

In other news the club have removed the St James’ Park sign from outside the ground. In November the decision was made to rename the historical stadium the Sports Direct Arena much to the annoyance of the Newcastle fans. However performances on the pitch have at least consoled fans upset by the decision to end years of tradition.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Newcastle v Wolverhampton

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