Tiote return lifts Pardew
Alan Pardew is hoping Cheick Tiote's return will help Newcastle rediscover their best form.
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The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international has been missing since damaging a calf muscle in the opening-day victory over Tottenham and the Magpies have rather laboured in his absence.
However, he is likely to play some part in Wednesday night's Capital One Cup third round trip to Manchester United after getting 14 minutes of Sunday's 1-0 Barclays Premier League win against Norwich under his belt.
Tiote is Pardew's midfield enforcer and while he may not be regarded as one of flair players in the squad, it is he who helps to provide the foundation for the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to work their magic.
The manager said: "You have to have a platform to play. He gets a grip of a game and you can start to dominate with somebody like Cheick.
"He puts other teams on the back foot in many ways. He's a fantastic player and one of our most important players.
"We need to get him back in the team as quickly as we can, and I think he will feature on Wednesday."
Tiote, a £3.5million signing from FC Twente during the summer of 2010, provides bite in the middle of midfield - he was booked just 13 minutes into his return to action - but much more.
Asked what exactly he brings to the team, Pardew said: "Drive, passion, a determination to win whatever he is doing, whether it's table-tennis or a game of football, and an ability that many players can't reach. He is a fantastic player."
If Tiote's role against Norwich was a brief cameo, Ba once again took centre stage as he scored the only game of the goal, a cool finish from the excellent Ben Arfa's exquisite 19th-minute pass to end an eventful week with his fourth strike of the season.
The Senegal international, of course, found himself at odds with his club last week after being left out of the starting line-up at Everton, and his comments and those of his agent later sparked something of a fuss.
However, Ba is happy to let his feet do the talking from now on.
He told the Evening Chronicle: "That is what football is about. It should be played on the pitch when it's 11 v 11. The best time to do your talking is during the 90 minutes.
"I'm very delighted. To have a win and a goal is great for me. It was a great pass from Hatem to get the goal, and to get three points as well means you can't ask for any more."
Victory took Newcastle on to eight points for the season, just one adrift of their tally at the same stage last season, and while Pardew is determined to reproduce the flowing football that took the club into fifth place at the end of the last campaign, he is happy enough with that start.
He said: "I am really pleased with the results, if not the excitement levels. Our fans want to get off their seats and so do I.
"Don't think we want to grind results out, we don't. We want to play well and win.
"We are not doing that at the moment, but I am still pleased that we have got enough nous to get the points."
For former Magpies boss Chris Hughton, who saw his side crushed 5-0 at Fulham on the opening day of the campaign, a far more encouraging display on the road was cause for optimism.
He said: "Apart from that first game of the season, we have been good away from home and quite brave away from home.
"It's just those elusive goals that we are missing at the moment. We are certainly solid enough on back of a clean sheet last week and only conceding one goal yesterday - and there will be plenty of goals scored there with the strikeforce Newcastle have got."