ALAN Pardew has moved to reassure Newcastle United fans after Cheik Tiote was ruled out of Chelsea’s visit to St James’s Park.
The midfielder has sat out the club’s past five games with a knee injury.
Pardew had hoped to have the 25-year-old back for last weekend’s visit to Manchester United.
But Tiote failed to prove his fitness in time, and he remains unavailable.
And he could also sit out the game against Norwich City at Carrow Road on December 10.
Tiote’s extended spell on the sidelines has fuelled speculation among supporters, mindful that striker Andy Carroll was out of action this time last year before his move to Liverpool, he is being kept out of the team ahead of a sale in next month.
However, Pardew - who admitted last month said it would take a “hell of a lot of money” for a club to prise any of his players away in the transfer window - has moved to calm fears that there’s more to Tiote’s absence than just injury.
“It’s a niggling injury,” Pardew told SportMail.
“He hasn’t had a setback. It’s not his groin, and there’s nothing else going on.
“It’s still his knee, but it’s taking longer than we’d hoped. I said he’d play this week, and he’s not going to play, so I’m not going to say he’s going to play at Norwich.
“It’s going to take a while. Cheik’s a bit down about it. He’s desperate to play. He’s missing three big games. We’ve got to manage Cheik and get him back to his best as quick as we can. He’s a very important player.”
Pardew also admitted he was wrong to give an him a chance of playing at Old Trafford.
“I want to apologise (to the fans),” he said. “That’s my fault, in a way.
“It’s better to get that news out than Chelsea finding out through the teamsheet.”
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