By Harry Sykes

Rafael Benitez has admitted there is interest from clubs in Cheick Tiote ahead of the January transfer window.

The Newcastle manager has revealed in his programme notes ahead of Wednesday’s league clash against Norwich that clubs have approached the north-east giants to discuss signing the experienced midfielder.

“It’s no secret there has been interest but he has continued to train really well,” said Benitez of Tiote, as quoted by Chronicle chief sports writer Lee Ryder on his personal Twitter account.

“As Yoan Gouffran has shown this season the door is never closed for players who want to work hard for this club.

Tiote has played only 15 minutes of first-team football this season after coming close to a summer exit from Tyneside.

The Ivorian came off the bench in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa after being named in the Newcastle squad for the first time this season.

During the summer, Qatar Stars League outfits Al Ahli and Al Sadd were both interested in signing the 30-year-old midfielder, but a deal could not be agreed.

According to Turkish sports newspaper AMK, Tiote almost joined Euro giants Galatasaray but a move reportedly fell through at the last minute after problems arose during the combative midfielder’s medical.

The former FC Twente midfielder in now in the final year of his Newcastle contract and is unlikely to be offered an extension after slipping down the central midfield pecking order, where he is behind the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden.

Tiote has made 154 appearances for the club since signing for £3.5million in 2010.

But he has struggled for consistency and fitness since sustaining a serious knee injury in February 2015.

In other Newcastle transfer news, this departing Euro 2016 star has told his former fans what they deserve.