Newcastle's Cheik Tiote and Shefki Kuqi in training ground scuffle

18 April 2011 04:41
Newcastle are gearing up for a possible fight against relegation from the Barclays Premier League. and it looks like Cheik Tiote and Shefki Kuqi may have taken that literally in training on Monday.

The burly Magpies pair appeared to come to blows in training at their Longbenton training ground as the pictures below show. In one Kuqi looks to be thrusting an elbow in the direction of Tiote, but onlookers insisted that there was no malice involved and that the pair were simply fooling around.

Newcastle are preparing for a crunch clash against Manchester United at St James' Park on Tuesday.

Magpies' feathers ruffled: Cheik Tiote (centre) and Shefki Kuqi (right) appear to come to blows in training

With the Premier League's bottom half so bunched up, a run of several poor results could plunge some seemingly safe sides into deep trouble. Alan Pardew's men currently sit in tenthspot in the top flight but just six points separate them from the drop zone and seven from the bottom of the table.

Tiote has enjoyed a stellar introduction to his Newcastle career since signing from FC Twente for ?3.5m last summer, the 24-year-old Ivory Coast international impressing with his strong performances in midfield.

But Kuqi, 34, who joined the Magpies in February following Andy Carroll's departure for Liverpool, has had a less successful stint with the Toon.

He has been derided by many fans as a sub-standard replacement for former home-town hero Carroll and has so far failed to find the net after four appearances in a black and white shirt.

No holding back: Peter Lovenkrands (left) looks on as Tiote and Kuqi indulge in some argy-bargy

Nevertheless, Pardew hailed the Finland striker's mental fortitude and marked him out as a role model for other players.

He said: 'Shefki is an example of someone that perhaps wouldn't have expected to ever come to a club like Newcastle. But I knew that when he put the jersey on, like he did on Sunday, he'd affect the game. His character is big enough to carry the shirt.

'Of course he isn't blessed with the quality to wear Newcastle United's number nine shirt. We are looking for someone else for that.

'But by the same token this particular player will have to have Shefki's character to do it. It's a very important ingredient for whoever comes in.'

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Source: Daily_Mail