Cheick Tiote’s been told to stay on the pitch at all costs – as Newcastle United can’t afford to lose him.
Tough-tackling Tiote has had to be substituted at half time in the club’s last two games after picking up early bookings.
Already we’ve had three games with 10 men and we’ve got to learn from that. So play with a kind of intensity but that has to be controlled – and that includes Cheicky.Cheick Tiote
And United head coach Steve McClaren – who this week lost Jack Colback for up to six weeks – can’t afford to be without another midfielder to a suspension.
Tiote, booked for a 14th-minute challenge on Adam Johnson in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Sunderland, must keep “control” against Stoke City at St James’s Park this afternoon.
Asked if Tiote had to rein himself in, McClaren said: “I know Cheicky, you know Cheicky.
“You will know, don’t need me to tell you, but of course emotional control and control in a game is one of the key elements.
“Already we’ve had three games with 10 men and we’ve got to learn from that. So play with a kind of intensity but that has to be controlled – and that includes Cheicky.”
McClaren – who previously worked with Tiote at FC Twente – felt Tiote played well in the Wear-Tyne derby before his withdrawal and the 6-2 win over Norwich City a week earlier.
“I thought he was excellent first-half last week (against Sunderland), I really thought he was excellent,” said McClaren.
“He got 45 minutes against Norwich – which he needed – and I thought he was excellent, didn’t want to take him off.
“But I just felt that we needed to attack this and score, there’s no point in him and Vurnon (Anita) being there, we need to go for it. The cards played a big role in that.”
Asked if he needed Tiote more than ever given Colback’s absence, McClaren added: “Absolutely. We’ve got two midfield players now, so big responsibility on their shoulders.”
Colback suffered a knee injury in the Wear-Tyne derby.
McClaren, however, does not blame Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole, who challenged his former team-mate early in the second half.
“Jack is one of our leaders and a very good midfield player, but this gives other people an opportunity to come in and establish themselves,” he said.
“I don’t apportion any blame to Lee Cattermole. It was a fair tackle and Jack said it was.”