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Pardew Ponders Enforced Reshuffle

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

Cheick Tiote is suspended for the Boxing Day game against Stoke but Alan Pardew has plenty of other options

By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor

All Alan Pardew wanted for Christmas was to be able to name an unchanged team for Newcastle's Boxing Day clash with Stoke, but Cheick Tiote's suspension means that he will have to make at least one alteration to his starting XI.

The Ivorian picked up a fifth booking of the season in the 3-0 win at Crystal Palace and that means he misses the visit of the Potters to St. James' Park.

But Pardew is confident that whoever replaces Tiote - one of United's outstanding performers in recent weeks - will rise to the challenge as the Magpies look to maintain their current top six position.

"He is suspended so we have to make a change, unfortunately, because I would have liked to play the same team that played at Crystal Palace," the manager admitted.

"They were terrific and it would have been nice to have said to them 'go and do it again.'

"But we have to make a change enforced on us - and we've got enough quality to deal with that.

"I want a team that I think's going to beat Stoke and I'll pick a team that I think will do that."

Hatem Ben Arfa impressed as a late substitute at Selhurst Park and scored from the spot, while Shola Ameobi won the penalty and himself caught the eye coming from the bench.

And Pardew said: "I've also got Papiss Cisse in the background and Sammy Ameobi who's doing very well at the moment, so I have choices and I'll just make the choice I think's right to win the game.

"We're looking forward to a really happy day, hopefully, on Boxing Day. We're in a great position, we're going to have 50,000 there and we want to make sure we entertain them with a win.

"I hope that the home influence in terms of the crowd can get us a much-needed victory."

Mark Hughes' Stoke have been in good form themselves, climbing into the top ten after a four-match unbeaten run which included a victory over Aston Villa last weekend.

And Pardew insisted: "I think they're a team that have always been good and competitive. Under Tony (Pulis) they were the same as they are under Mark.

"They're a good team, they've got good players.

"They are functioning well and they've got a lot of experience in the team. They know how to win games; a great goalkeeper who can keep anyone at bay so they're a team that are very difficult to beat as they've proven.

"We're going to really have to play well but if we play like we did at Crystal Palace then we've got a great chance."