Pardew: Tiote is key for us
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has insisted midfielder Cheick Tiote remains a key part of his plans despite speculation linking him with a move to Russia.
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The 28-year-old Ivory Coast international is understood to have been the subject of a bid from Lokomotiv Moscow earlier this month which has been described as "derisory" by sources on Tyneside.
However, while conscious that all of his players have their price and that a substantial bid could prompt a change of mind above him, Pardew, who along with captain Fabricio Coloccini, assistant John Carver and managing director Lee Charnley, attended the funeral of Flight MH17 victim Liam Sweeney on Thursday morning, is looking forward to a future which includes Tiote.
The 53-year-old said: "He's just a great player, he's just a top player. Top players demand top fees if they are going to move, but at the moment, that isn't the case.
"He is our player and we are looking forward to fitting him into the team.
"He is very much under contract with us and I am looking forward to seeing him running around in our fabulous new shirt for our fans because I love the way he plays, I love his mentality to the game and I look forward to seeing him this week, hopefully."
Pardew's confidence comes with the caveat that he would not have sold Andy Carroll - or, for that matter, Yohan Cabaye - given the choice, but Liverpool in particular made the Magpies an offer they simply could not refuse for the striker.
The manager admitted: "I am never confident in this position at this football club because I have had the experience of Andy Carroll."
Tiote's hamstring injury means he will miss Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Aston Villa, but fellow midfielder Siem de Jong and loan striker Facundo Ferreyra will be added to the squad.
But whether or not summer signing De Jong is ready to make his competitive debut after shaking off a foot problem remains to be seen.
Pardew said: "Siem has to earn the right to play. Whether he is ready 100 per cent for this weekend, I am not sure. We will decide that, probably, tomorrow."