AFTER a weekend of dismal injury news, Newcastle United are hoping for the lift of seeing Cheick Tiote on the Darsley Park training pitches this morning.
There have been numerous false dawns since the Ivorian midfielder injured his knee in the run-up to October’s League Cup tie at Blackburn Rovers and with that in mind, the Magpies are reluctant to build up hopes again. But if Tioté were to take part in practice today, there could be a chance of him facing Norwich City at the weekend.
His return would be particularly well timed with a makeshift central defensive pairing to protect.
Steven Taylor underwent surgery on his Achilles yesterday, and may not play again this season. Newcastle are continuing to monitor Fabricio Coloccini, who had a scan on his groin yesterday. It would be a major surprise were the captain to maintain his ever-present record by lining up against the Canaries, although he has defied the odds once already this season, putting in an heroic performance at Manchester United the day after suffering back spasms in training.
To have lost one centre-back for the difficult trip to Carrow Road is unfortunate, to be without both would be bordering on a crisis for Newcastle.
Having tried and failed to sign Birmingham City’s Liam Ridgewell on August’s deadline day, the Magpies have only three senior central defenders and the other, Mike Williamson, is also injured.
The 28-year-old is making slow progress after ankle ligament damage suffered in August. Although manager Alan Pardew spoke yesterday about “accelerating” his recovery, Williamson is still only doing what the club describe as “very light” training, and will not join the rest of the group this week.
Versatile defender James Tavernier is on loan at League One Sheffield Wednesday, and he cannot be recalled until after Swansea City pay a visit to St James’ Park on December 17 – at the earliest.
By the time of Newcastle’s next game, at home to West Bromwich Albion the following Wednesday, Coloccini could well be fit for first-team action.
Tamas Kadar is therefore the club’s next available centre-back to partner James Perch against Norwich.
However, as the nearest the Hungarian youngster has got to Pardew’s first-team is unused substitute appearances against Tottenham Hotspur and Stevenage last season, others are likely to be asked to switch position first.
Full-backs Davide Santon, yet to start for the club after joining in the summer from Inter Milan, and Danny Simpson are leading candidates.
Having played the majority of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, Perch is adamant he is ready for his first Premier League start in just under a year.
“I’m ready to step in,” insisted the player who set up Dan Gosling’s goal at Manchester City.
“I’ve come on in the last couple of games, so it’s not as if I’ve been away from the first team for a while.
“I would never wish injury on anybody. It’s an absolute disaster that Coloccini and Taylor are injured, because they’ve played brilliantly.
“But I’ve got to come in now and step up to the plate.”
Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud insists he is ignoring rumours of a January bid from Newcastle and focusing on seeing out the season with Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier.
France has been a happy hunting ground for chief scout Graham Carr, and the 25-year-old’s form will not have escaped his attention.
With 12 goals in 15 games this season, twice-capped Giroud is the league’s top scorer.
“I am very happy with the start of the season,” he said. “I am in good form, in good physical condition, so I am lucky at the moment and enjoying my football.
“It is normal to be linked with clubs when you are scoring goals.
“I like the English Premier League. Newcastle are a big club, so who knows?
“But at the moment I am thinking about Montpellier and putting them on the European map at the end of the season.”
Valencia, Villarreal and Malaga have also been linked with the player.