Steve McClaren does have a decision to make on Sunday at Sunderland as to who he starts in defensive midfield between Cheick Tiote who is slowly returning from a long-term knee injury – and Vurnon Anita – who has played solidly for us all season and at the end of last season too.
McClaren preferred Tiote to Anita for the home game against Norwich last time out but Tiote picked up a yellow card after just five minutes and he did manage to get himself sent off on 21st October at the Stadium of Light three years ago in the 1-1 draw.
Cheick Tiote – to start on Sunday?
At that time it was a straight red card for a bad tackle on Steven Fletcher
We were winning 1-0 through a goal from Cabaye after only three minutes when Cheick was sent off 22 minutes later and we almost held out until an own goal from Demba Ba leveled the scores after 85 minutes.
Steve was asked about taking Cheick off at half-time last Sunday:
“I think just because of the yellow card.” “I was a little bit conscious of that and the state of the game at the time.”
“I know Cheicky hasn’t played for a long time, and the tireder he gets the more impetuous he gets. Another yellow would have put us in a lot of trouble, and I didn’t want to risk that.”
“At 3-2 at half time, it was too big a moment to take a risk. I had every confidence in Vurnon.”
“I was delighted with some of the performances. Robbie Elliot was composed and calm. Paul Dummett, for his first game, was excellent, and we know what Cheicky can do.
“I think it was good getting Dummett back and Tiote getting some minutes on the field.”
“In terms of where we’re at now compared to where we were two or three weeks ago, in terms of injuries, we’re a lot better as well as players performing to the standard and their potential.”
“We need that again. We need consistency.”
We think McClaren will start Cheick in Sunday but be ready to bring Vurnon Anita in at any time – much the same as last Sunday – in case Cheick is on a yellow card or to shore things up at the back.
Cheick can provide some energy and bite early in the game for Newcastle and should be better than he was last Sunday, although it’s true there is some risk in starting the 29 year-old Ivorian.
Who would you start between Tiote and Anita on Sunday?