Amid the uncertainty of Fabricio Coloccini’s Newcastle future, the importance of those players who face Norwich unifying to halt the club’s alarming slide down the Premier League table cannot be emphasised enough.
Whie the revelations made regarding Coloccini’s desire to secure a permanent return to Argentina for personal reasons are bad news for the Magpies, the Argentine’s colleagues cannot afford to be unsettled by them and compromise their chances of securing a desperately needed positive result at Carrow Road.
Since the beginning of November the Magpies have amassed just seven points from 12 Premier League games, a run which begun with a resolute 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield. On that afternoon there was little indication that Newcastle’s season would take the troubled course that it subsequently has, with manager Alan Pardew largely attributing this to key players being plagued by injuries throughout the course of the season.
One such player, whose absence is widely regarded as having had a significant influence on Newcastle’s recent struggles, is Yohan Cabaye. That the French midfielder is understood to be ready to continue his comeback from groin surgery by being named as a substitute against the Canaries comes as a timely boost for Pardew, as does the anticipated returns to the starting XI of Papiss Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez.
Normally, the same could be said in the case of Coloccini, as the defender is believed to be fit for selection after missing last Saturday’s 2-0 F.A Cup defeat to Brighton due to a knock picked up in Newcastle’s previous Premier League outing – a 2-1 home defeat to Everton.
However, although the centre-back has travelled with the rest of his team mates to Norwich, whether Pardew deems him in the right frame of mind to play a part remains to be seen. This is not to question for one moment the professionalism of Coloccini, more to highlight the possibility that given the difficulty of his situation, Pardew may decide to omit him on compassionate grounds, or generally on the belief it is in the best interests of the team. Above anything else, that cannot be jeopardised.
Pardew is in an unenviable position. This is especially the case with potential deputies in extremely short supply, and one of the other regular centre-backs, Mike Williamson, better off when partnering his captain rather than replacing him, particularly against the type of challenge one or both of Grant Holt and Steve Morison will pose.
There is no doubting that a Magpies side with a fully focussed Coloccini is a more formidable proposition than one without. However, more important than the presence of any individual, is the creation of a togetherness amongst the team as a whole. If they are to add to their dismal season’s tally of four points from away games, Newcastle will have to display such unity against Norwich, who themselves are enduring a difficult run in the Premier League, having lost four consecutive games. An interesting afternoon at Carrow Road awaits.
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