Rafa Benitez hails Newcastle United inspiration Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote

The midfielder has proved to be key alongside Jack Colback in recent weeks.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has hailed midfielder Cheick Tiote as an inspiration to the Chronicle.

The midfielder was duo to leave the club in the January transfer window as he had fallen out of contention under former manager Steve McClaren.

However, a move to Chinese Premier League club Shanghai Shenhua collapsed, leaving him stuck in limbo in the North East.

That was until Benitez’s arrival at St James' Park, with the Spaniard having partnered him alongside Jack Colback in the centre of midfield in recent weeks.

It has proved to be an inspired decision as they have provided the base for Newcastle's late rally to avoid the drop and the Spaniard has hailed Tiote as an inspiration to his teammates.

“He’s been really good for us,” he told the Chronicle. “We needed somebody with his style of football. We needed somebody with his character and his aggression.

“He is competitive, he can challenge and tackle players well. I think he’s been an inspiration for the other players.”

Benitez will now be hoping Tiote can continue his fine recent form to ensure Newcastle avoid the drop.

The Magpies are currently 17th in the table after moving above Sunderland at the weekend courtesy of a win over Crystal Palace.

With just one point separating the teams though, it is all to play for and maintaining their recent run of form will be key to ensuring it is Newcastle who ultimately survive.

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