Belfast Telegraph

Carver gives striker backing

Newcastle head coach John Carver is backing £5million summer signing Emmanuel Riviere to come good as he attempts to fill Papiss Cisse's sizeable boots.

The 25-year-old, who was drafted in from Monaco to help plug the gap left by the departures of Loic Remy, Shola Ameobi and Luuk de Jong, is still awaiting his first Barclays Premier League goal after slipping behind youngster Ayoze Perez in the St James' Park pecking order.

However, Riviere has been preferred to the former Tenerife starlet in the last two games, and Cisse's enforced absence as he begins a seven-game ban as his team-mates travel to Everton on Sunday means he is likely to be handed an extended run in the team.

The Frenchman has scored only twice for the Magpies - both of them in a 3-2 Capital One Cup victory at Crystal Palace in September - and has come in for some criticism from disenchanted fans.

However, Carver said: "I will defend him, he's one of my players. The one thing about Manu Riviere is he works his socks off. He keeps getting on the end of things, he keeps getting in the right areas and I'm telling you, before time it will come off.

"Let's judge him at the end of the season or in six months' time. This is the first time he's had a real run in the team, let's not forget. He's not played for the 90 minutes, but he's had a right good go at it.

"He's got to convert the chances, I understand that, but let's judge him in the future. I do think it takes guys time.

"Players in the past have taken a bit longer. Yohan Cabaye took a bit longer, Yoan Gouffran - a lot of players took some time to adapt. Ask any Premier League manager and they'll say the same thing.

"It's a different demand. It's demands more than anything else."

Riviere's cause has not been helped by the way 21-year-old Perez has started his career in the Barclays Premier League.

He scored the decisive goal in his first league start for the club, a 2-1 victory at Tottenham on October 26 last year, and was also on target in each of the next two games, wins against Liverpool and West Brom.

However, the last of his five goals for the club to date came against Everton on December 26, and Cisse has had to shoulder a significant burden since his return from the African Nations Cup.

The Senegal international, who is to undergo a minor procedure on his troublesome knee during his lay-off, will not be able to do so again, however, until the final three games of the campaign after earning himself a lengthy ban following his spitting match with Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, and Carver has little sympathy with him.

He said: "What he did was wrong, first of all, but it's very difficult to act on a situation when somebody has actually done that to you, and until somebody actually does it to you, you don't know how you would react.

"I think I know how I would react, and I don't think I would have spat in somebody's face. It was an unsavoury situation, wasn't it? Let's be honest."

Carver will welcome Jack Colback back from suspension and Remy Cabella from a knee problem, but fellow midfielder Mehdi Abeid and full-back Massadio Haidara are out with thigh and knee injuries respectively.

However, he will hope his depleted squad can take advantage of Everton's midweek Europa League exertions, a situation knows only too well after Newcastle's last dalliance with the competition.

He said: "When you work so hard to get your team into a position to qualify for it and then you've got to play so many games that it's detrimental to your bread and butter, which is Premier League football, it's taking away from it."

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