Mohamed Diame doesn’t look the type to tell many jokes but he has come out with an amusing comment ahead of Newcastle’s next busy period of three matches in a week.

To be fair, the Senegalese international was responding to a question when he said that he was ‘very confident’ that Newcastle will be able to cope when he is away on international duty.

The unintentional joke of course comes from the fact that Newcastle managed pretty well without him for the first four months of the season!

Of course it has been a very welcome sight to see him suddenly become Newcastle’s star man over the course of the past three games/wins, with nine points gathered from Birmingham, Wigan and Burton.

Before that though he was almost as anonymous as Ayoze Perez is, when he plays in that position behind Dwight Gayle.

Rafa Benitez had made clear in the run-up to these matches, especially after a series of three defeats, that he was looking to buy in January for that position.

Mohamed Diame now has three more games to impress against Sheffield Wednesday, Forest and Blackburn, as those heading for the African Cup of Nations don’t usually play in the FA Cup third round match and instead head off to prepare for the tournament.

Whilst the defence have predictably coped consistently with most opposition and Hayden & Shelvey have done it most weeks in the middle of the pitch, only Dwight Gayle has really delivered regularly out of those who are asked to score and create the bulk of the goals. Gouffran is steady but very limited in what he can do, whilst Matt Ritchie has faded after an excellent start but there must be confidence he will bounce back with his CV.

The local media claim today that Rafa Benitez is targeting a left sided winger and attacking midfielder in January and easy to see why, especially if looking towards players who potentially will then be able to cope with the Premier League.

Interesting to see if Rafa does give Perez yet another (very final?) chance in January, or looks to bring in somebody ASAP, whether on loan or a permanent deal.

By the time Mohamed Diame returns from international duty with Senegal, there could be as few as 16 Championship games remaining, so these next eight or so league games could be crucial for the Newcastle futures of players such as Ayoze Perez and Diame.

Mohamed Diame:

“I want to contribute before I go away (to Africa Cup of Nations finals).

“We have a big squad, a quality squad, so I’m very confident with the team the manager can play when I have to leave.

“Anyone can play and we know what we have to do.

“Every single player has to come in and give something to the team – it is important that we all do but I want to contribute now.”