EMMANUEL Riviere is still looking for his first Premier League goal for Newcastle United – but he’s set to be one of the first names on the teamsheet at Loftus Road.
Head coach John Carver says suspension-free Papiss Demba Cisse will NOT be fit enough to start against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
The striker is short of fitness after a lengthy rehabilitation from surgery in March.
Riviere, signed from Monaco last summer, is yet to find the net in the league, but Carver felt the powerful frontman – whose two goals for the club have come in the Capital One Cup – ably led the line in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at St James’s Park.
Carver replaced Riviere with Cisse for the last 21 minutes hoping for some inspiration from the 11-goal player, who had served a seven-match ban for spitting.
“I have to give special praise for Manu, I thought he was excellent as a lone striker,” said Carver.
“But I just took a little gamble, because he’s finding it hard to find the back of the net.
“His workrate for the team is fantastic, but I just thought Papiss might give us something special. Unfortunately, it didn’t.”
Carver feels 17th-placed Newcastle need to win one of their two remaining games to stay in the Premier League.
But Cisse will be on the bench at Loftus Road against QPR, who were relegated yesterday after losing 6-0 to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Asked about Cisse’s fitness ahead of the QPR game, Carver said: “He won’t be ready to start.”
Carver was heartened by the “response” from his team, beaten 3-0 by Leicester City seven days earlier.
“The response from everybody on the pitch was fantastic,” he said.
“I think the whole squad deserved a little bit of credit. I’m not getting carried away with it, but it’s a starting point.
“A point might be huge, but the more important thing for me is the performance. The performance showed that there are people – and I include myself in that – up for this fight.”