FABRICIO Coloccini has been backed to lead Alan Pardew’s rebuilt Newcastle United side up the table.
The 29-year-old was last week handed the club’s captaincy.
And he will skipper the team at Darlington on Friday night in the first of United’s pre-season friendlies.
However, Coloccini, a near ever-present in his three seasons at St James’s Park, has a tough act to follow.
Kevin Nolan, controversially sold to West Ham United this summer, led by example in midfield last season on Newcastle’s return to the Premier League.
Coloccini was also outstanding under Pardew and his predecessor Chris Hughton, and his defensive colleague Steven Taylor is confident the quietly-spoken centre-half will again let his feet do the talking.
“I respect Fabricio and all the lads are right behind him,” Taylor said. “I’ll help him, and he’ll help me and the other lads.
“He’s got a lot of experience – he’s played for Argentina. What more can you say? It was fantastic to play alongside him last season. He leads by example.
“I’m sure he’ll be a fantastic leader for us, but we’ll also need 10 other leaders on the pitch if we’re going to achieve our aims this season.”
Taylor, meanwhile, has the next few weeks to stake his claim for a place in Pardew’s defence for the opening game against Arsenal at St James’s Park on August 13, the game having been put back to a 5.30pm kick off for broadcast by ESPN.
The 25-year-old and his team-mates last week met the club’s new signings – Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Sylvain Marveaux, when they reported back for pre-season training.
And so far, so good for Taylor and his colleagues, who leave for their three-game tour of the United States on Sunday.
“All the new signings have mingled in very well, and the first few days have been good,” Taylor went on.
“Everyone’s getting their fitness now, and there’s a good spirit amongst the lads.
“It’s all about getting as many minutes under your belt as you can, and everyone’s looking forward to the Darlington game.”