Pardew hopeful of captain's return
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping to have captain Fabricio Coloccini back at his disposal for the crucial end-of-season run-in.
The 31-year-old has missed the last 11 games after breaking two bones in his back during the 4-2 Barclays Premier League victory over Southampton on February 24. In his absence, the Magpies have slipped out of the Europa League and been sucked closer to the battle for top-flight survival, although they remain six points clear of the bottom three.
However, Coloccini's return to training means he could yet have a part to play, and that would come as a welcome boost to Pardew, who has found himself in the firing line as the fall-out from the derby defeat by Sunderland continues to shroud Tyneside. He said: "Colo is training. He hasn't done full physical training - that's due to come, hopefully, this week."
Pardew added: "We are fingers crossed because obviously, that would be a big boost for us to have our captain back, for sure."
Coloccini's absence has been covered in part by the January arrival of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, although the Frenchman is still getting to grips with the intensity of English football and the Argentine's experience could prove invaluable over the final few weeks of the campaign.
The centre back's future remains a matter of some speculation after he revealed his desire to leave the club for personal reasons during the January transfer window, and although a proposed move to San Lorenzo failed to materialise as the Magpies dug their heels in, it remains to be seen where he will play his football next season.
Coloccini still has three years remaining on his contract after signing a new long-term deal in March last year. Pardew was swift to appoint him as his skipper in the wake of Kevin Nolan's departure for West Ham, and he has been conspicuous by his absence in recent weeks with Newcastle winning only three times in all competitions without him.
The 51-year-old will hope a solid week's training will give Coloccini a chance of playing against Liverpool on Saturday evening. That would provide a welcome boost with injuries continuing to deny the manager the opportunity to select his strongest team, something he has experienced for much of the campaign to date.
The side he sent out at West Brom on Saturday was missing keeper Tim Krul, full-back Davide Santon, Coloccini and holding midfielder Cheick Tiote, while playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa was fit enough only to be used as a substitute, and Sylvain Marveaux and Ryan Taylor were unavailable to him too.
However, Pardew is confident the plague of injuries is the result of misfortune rather than anything the club is doing wrong, saying: "We have got a good medical team here. In all seasons, there are one or two [injuries] perhaps you could have prevented by holding them back, and maybe that's something we will look at."
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