CHEIK Tiote has proved his fitness ahead of Newcastle United’s visit to Southampton.
The midfielder, yet to play for his club this season, played in second game in four days yesterday.
Tiote was in the Ivory Coast side beaten 4-1 by Cameroon in an African Cup of Nations qualifier Yaounde.
And the 28-year-old is now due back on Tyneside in the next 24 hours ahead of Saturday’s game at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Tiote, given an extended summer break because of his involvement in the Ivory Coast’s World Cup campaign, only made one pre-season appearance because of a hamstring injury.
United manager Alan Pardew - who hopes to have Jack Colback (calf) available - will be keen for the club’s medical staff to assess him before the team’s flight to the south coast.
Pardew, facing a potentially-defining two games, will be without forward Siem de Jong, who is facing up to four months on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
Pardew - who will be acutely aware that of the darkening mood among fans on Tyneside - will face the media today ahead of the Southampton game.
The fixture is followed by a home game against Steve Bruce’s Hull City on September 20 that Newcastle - and especially Pardew - cannot afford to lose.
The 53-year-old has come under renewed fire in the wake of the club’s failure to strengthen before the transfer window closed, and the decision to loan out Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to Hull and AS Roma respectively.
Supporters had been hoping for at least one more signing, despite the rash of arrivals earlier in the summer.
Pardew’s squad looks short of a striker, though Papiss Demba Cisse is close to a return to full training after recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered late last season.
Meanwhile, Jamie Sterry made his comeback from a long-term ankle injury.
The defender played 45 minutes for United’s Under-21 in a behind-closed-doors game against Gateshead, won 2-1 by Peter Beardsley side thanks to two goals from Tom Heardman.
Sterry tweeted: “So happy to play my first 45 mins after a long time out injured! Thanks to everyone who helped me through the hard times.”