Fabricio Coloccini returns to Newcastle, dismisses unrest reports
Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini has recovered from injury and could be key to ensuring the club's Premier League survival, manager Alan Pardew said on Thursday as he also dismissed reports of disharmony among his players.
Argentine Coloccini has not played since suffering a back injury at the end of February but is available for Saturday's trip to West Ham United which comes a week after a 6-0 thumping by Liverpool that left them one place above the drop zone.
"He's the captain of this club and sadly we've missed him for a lot of the season in terms of injury and one thing or another. But he's fit and well," Pardew said on the club website (www.nufc.co.uk).
"You need your leaders and you need people who are experienced.
"You can't get carried away and think that this is a fight. This isn't a fight. It's not a boxing match - it's a game of football so you need to have a calm head and you need to play," he added.
"And one thing that Colo obviously brings is that calmness to the team and I think that is very important where we are right now."
Newcastle have 37 points from 35 games and are in 17th place, five points clear of Wigan Athletic who occupy the remaining relegation spot after Queens Park Rangers and Reading went down last weekend.
They are one of three teams on the same points, along with Aston Villa and Sunderland.
After the humiliation at the hands of Liverpool last Saturday there were media reports of unrest at the club with one reporter from The Telegraph then being banned from attending matches and news conferences after his article on the situation.
Pardew was keen to stress there was no problem among his players.
"As far as I'm concerned, the group is very much together," he said.
"We're pulling together, trying to get a result, and the fact that we have a lot of French players and some language difficulty has been kind of torn up and made to be something else.
"There's no problem and we go to the next game."
Mathieu Debuchy is suspended after his red card against Liverpool while fellow defender Massadio Haidara is an injury doubt.