Cheick Tiote was widely regarded as one of Newcastle United's key performers, but results in recent weeks have suggested that they may function better as a unit without him.
Tiote's injury was expected to be another blow to a team who failed to win any of their first seven Premier League fixtures but, instead, his absence has coincided with a major up-turn in their form.
Newcastle have now won their last four Premier League games, and beaten Manchester City during that time in cup competition, meaning Tiote faces a struggle to get back into the starting line-up when he is fit again.
He has been covered for admirably by his teammates and the form of Mehdi Abeid has been one of the major reasons behind the club's success.
It had seemed that Abeid's time at St. James' Park could have been coming to an end, but the 22-year-old has stepped-up when given his opportunity and all viewers have been impressed.
In a rigid system, designed to soak up opposition pressure and then hit them on the counter-attack, Abeid has looked right at home and his protection to the defence has been pivotal in the team only conceding one goal in their last five games.
His statistics also reflect this form, as he has been remarkably similar to Tiote in a number of key areas so far.
|Tackles per game||Headers per game||Interception per game||Dispossessed per game||Passes per game||Passing Accuracy||Mins Played|
Abeid has made as many tackles of Tiote was averaging over the season so far and also won a similar amount of headers.
The pair's passing accuracy is also very similar, although the Ivorian does make them more often, but Abeid makes up for this by making more interceptions than Tiote has managed to.
If he can keep this form up it means that Tiote absence will continue to a non-issue for the side and, given the reported interest in the midfield enforcer, it could allow the club the chance to cash-in on the 28-year-old and invest the money in other areas of their squad in January.
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