While rumours circulate as to what club strip Cheick Tiote will be wearing in the second half of the season, what is certain is that along with Demba Ba and anticipated new signing, Maiga, he will not be available for a good number of matches in January/February.

The Africa Cup Of Nations takes place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, kicking off on 21st January  with the final played on 12th February, though it is anybody’s guess when players will be expected at training camps and their availability afterwards, obviously in part down to how far their countries progress.

I remember a few years ago Chelsea moaning about how unfair it was because they lost a handful of players for crucial games, did they not have a look at their birth certificates/passports when they signed them?

It’s hard to accept when you are losing key players as Newcastle are, especially with the size of our squad, or more importantly the small group of key players who are head and shoulders above others.

However, as this isn’t exactly a new competition it must have played a factor over the years when it comes to the value of such players to European clubs, or at least it should.

Look on the bright side, at least it will give us an interest in the competition and I would just settle for a fully fit Tiote still in black & white come mid-February.