CHEIK Tiote has backed Gael Bigirimana to fill his boots in Newcastle United’s Europa League tie against Atromitos.
Bigirimana is on standby to play against the Greek side on Thursday night.
United manager Alan Pardew is expected to make a significant number of changes for the visit to Athens, with Newcastle facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge less than 48 hours later.
Pardew is reluctant to ask his players to play two games in the space of three days.
And Bigirimana – who topped up his fitness with a 90-minute run-out for the club in the new Professional Development League on Saturday – is on standby to play.
Tiote is likely to be rested along with a number of other key players.
The tough-tackling 26-year-old has already been impressed with Bigirimana, signed from Coventry City in a deal worth up to £1m this summer.
Like Tiote, Bigirimana is a fierce competitor, and the 18-year-old also has an eye for a pass, something he demonstrated in pre-season.
“He’s a good player, and a good young man as well,” Tiote said.
“I think he’ll get more experience every minute he plays, which will make him a better player. That’s because as I say he’s a good man, and he’s keen and hungry to learn.
“I’m happy for him. He has the quality to play in the Premier League. He’s good for Newcastle.”