ALAN Pardew is confident Danny Guthrie can fill Cheik Tiote’s boots at the Britannia Stadium tonight (kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports 1).
Tiote is unlikely to be involved against Stoke City because of a knee problem.
The 25-year-old also missed last week’s Carling Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers, where Guthrie deputised.
And Guthrie is again on standby to line up alongside Yohan Cabaye in the centre of Pardew’s midfield.
Pardew felt Guthrie – who hasn’t started a Premier League game yet this season –acquitted himself well at Ewood Park after an injury-hit start to the campaign.
“I thought Guthrie was our best player,” Pardew told SportMail. “Make no bones about it, he was the best player on the night.
“He’s a very good footballer and I wouldn’t hesitate to put him back into the team.”
Read more reaction in the build-up to tonight’s match in today’s Sportmail.