Steve McClaren has dismissed suggestions that Cheick Tiote is a “bad egg”, insisting neither him nor Papiss Cisse cause problems at Newcastle.
Tiote is currently sidelined with a knee problem having also missed the majority of last season through injury.
It led to his commitment to the Newcastle cause being questioned by Daily Express reporter John Richardson on Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement show on Sunday.
Richardson said: “The (Newcastle) dressing room – basically I know there’s a few bad eggs in there.
“Steve McClaren knows who they are, he wants to get them out, but it’s harder to do that because they’re on bloated wages. Basically there’s a lot of poison there.
“Yes I do (know who the bad eggs are).
“Yes I can say who one of them is: one of them is Cheick Tiote.
“Tiote, who has supposedly been unfit all season. Newcastle keep sending him for checks and scans – nothing ever comes up.
“He’s obviously not bothered, he doesn’t want to play.
“There’s other players there of the same ilk and until something happens the club is not going to move on.”
McClaren, who worked with Tiote during his time in Holland, was adamant there is no problem as he prepared his side for Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
He said: “There’s been no problem with Cheick. He’s not a bad egg at all. I know Cheick well – I obviously had him at Twente – and he’s no trouble. He doesn’t cause trouble, he just wants to play.
“Papiss is Papiss, and he goes around with a smile on his face. That’s the culture that he’s got. I don’t agree with that view at all.
“We haven’t seen enough of Cheick – he went away for the Africa Cup of Nations and I don’t really think he’s played a game since. That’s an ongoing problem that he has, and he needs to be right to play. He hasn’t been right or correct, it’s as simple as that.
“He hasn’t been able to build up his fitness, but I know Cheick well and I couldn’t be any stronger in terms of saying that he’s not any trouble.
“He’s no bad egg – he just wants to play football, but he’s not been able to do that, so he’s frustrated. He’s definitely not been feigning injury.”