By Will Butcher
Rafa Benitez has revealed that frozen out midfielder Cheick Tiote will be on the bench for Friday night’s clash against Nottingham Forest.
The Ivory Coast international has featured just once for the Toon this year, coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
Tiote, 30, could feature from the substitute’s bench against Forest, after Benitez revealed that he will be in the dugout for the heavyweight Championship clash with Jack Colback nursing an eye injury.
“He will be in the squad,” Benitez told the Evening Chronicle. “We don’t want to take any risks with Jack Colback him so Cheick will be on the bench.
“I asked him if he’s ready to compete and he said yes. He’s one more player for us.”
The news will come as a shock to Toon fans, after Tiote was a heartbeat away from joining Turkish giants Galatasaray in the summer before problems arose during his medical.
Tiote was ever present for the North East club during their Premier League days, featuring 139 times in the top flight for the Magpies.
His combative displays warmed the hearts of the St. James’ Park faithful, as he became a bargain at just £4million from Dutch outfit FC Twente.
Remembered for his dramatic equaliser during a 4-4 draw against Arsenal in which he rifled home a volley from long distance, the return of Tiote will delight Newcastle fans as they look to extend their lead at the top of the Championship against Philippe Montanier’s side.
In other Newcastle news, Eddie Howe rejects Toon move for 24-year-old star.