CHEIK Tiote fears the Manchester United game will be his last before he leaves for the African Cup of Nations.
And that’s a significant blow to Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew, whose side were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool at Anfield last night.
Pardew had hoped to keep Tiote on Tyneside until the middle of next month.
Tiote has been called up by the Ivory Coast for the tournament, which is being co-staged by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and runs until February 12.
And that means the influential midfielder could have to leave after the next home game on January 4 to join his international team-mates for a training camp.
Pardew had been optimistic he would have Tiote available for the FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers three days later, and the visit of Queens Park Rangers to St James’s Park on January 15.
“Maybe after the Man United game, I’ll go,” said Tiote.
“We have a training camp in Abu Dhuabi, and I may have to go to that.
“It’s hard for me. I want to play for my country, and I want to stay here and play for Newcastle. I just hope we do well while I’m away.
“We have some tough games and we need to start taking more points.”
For his part, Pardew is watching closely what happens to other Premier League players, with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini also battling to keep Ivory Coast duo Yaya and Kolo Toure for as long as possible.
Pardew said: “Hopefully, we’ll have them both for January 7, and that’ll be the last game.
“We’re watching all of that. It impacts on us. If Yaya Toure doesn’t go, why should Cheik go. We’re all in the same boat.”
Newcastle took the lead at Anfield through a Daniel Agger own goal, but Craig Bellamy struck twice and substitute Steven Gerrard also netted to give Kenny Dalglish’s side a deserved win and condemn United to yet another defeat at the stadium.
“The first half was OK because we scored the first goal, and after that we still played well,” said Tiote.
“But then we conceded one bad goal, and after it we lost confidence and we stopped doing things right. From that we scored another goal, and that’s a problem.
“We are really, really disappointed about what happened. I really don’t know what to say about it. We have lost a game we could have won.
“Maybe it’s best to forget about this one because we have a game at home to Manchester United.”