Steve McClaren is refusing to write off Cheick Tiote’s Newcastle United career.
The midfielder is facing an uncertain future at St James’s Park after two injury-hit seasons.
He was only a young kid then – young and innocent – and he’s grown now. He’s a bit older and wiser and (has) a bigger contract.Steve McClaren
But United head coach Steve McClaren – who worked with Tiote during his first spell in charge of FC Twente – just wants to see him back on the pitch. Tiote only played 45 minutes of football in pre-season because of a knee injury.
“I know Cheicky very well,” said McClaren. “It was great to see him when he first came through the door.
“I had him in Holland for a couple of years.
“He was only a young kid then – young and innocent – and he’s grown now. He’s a bit older and wiser and (has) a bigger contract.
“I want him fit and playing.
“I’ve seen him here. He’s had a couple of great seasons.
“What we’ve got to do is get him fit and get him playing to the level he can play.
“If he does that, he’ll be a great asset.”
Newcastle, however, will have a decision to make should a club bid for Tiote this summer.
A year ago, then-manager Alan Pardew admitted the 29-year-old had been “unsettled” because of interest from an unnamed club.
Tiote went on to start just 10 Premier League games.
The Ivory Coast international – who has two years left on his contract – missed the second half of the season with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman has been handed the No 1 jersey by Crawley Town.
The 18-year-old joined the League One side last week on a half-season loan.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Woodman.
“It’s a massive difference, and it takes some getting used to. I’ll take this experience back with me and say ‘let’s not come back here – let’s play in the Premier League’.
“But first-team football is where everything happens.
“The best thing for me was to come on loan.
“I’m grateful Crawley have taken me.”
Woodman’s father Andy left Newcastle last week to become goalkeeping coach at Crystal Palace, where Pardew is now manager.