FABRICIO Coloccini’s battling to be fit for Newcastle United’s visit to the Madjeski Stadium tomorrow.
The club’s captain made his comeback from a hamstring injury in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester United.
Coloccini was given an hour-long run out at Old Trafford as planned, and left the field with no problems.
However, the defender – who suffered the injury while on international duty with Argentina earlier this month – reported some discomfort yesterday morning.
And United manager Alan Pardew and his staff were today assessing Coloccini ahead of the Reading game – and they won’t take any risks.
“The only worry we have is Colo,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“He’s back, but we don’t think he’s quite right yet.
“If he’s not right, then we won’t risk him.”
If Coloccini isn’t fit, then Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson are expected resume their partnership which kept a clean sheet in the last league outing against Norwich City.
However, midfielder Cheik Tiote made his first start since the opening day of the season against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, and he came through the game reporting no ill-efforts from the calf problem which had sidelined him for more than a month.
Pardew will also recall recent goal hero Demba Ba, in-form winger Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez and Taylor, who were rested in midweek.
“Everybody will come back in, and they’re in good health,” he added. “Everybody’s pushing and available.”
The absence of Coloccini – who has “The Knowledge”, according to Pardew – was felt by Newcastle, such is his influence on and off the pitch.
But his appearance at Old Trafford, along with Tiote’s in the middle of the park, helped steady the Magpies against the attacking threat of Man United’s big guns.
“They’re big players for us, and you can’t underestimate that,” said Pardew.
“I thought Colo was composed. It was his first game. He reads situations, and does things that to the untrained eye makes it look easy.
“Great players – like (Wayne) Rooney – do that, and Colo does that in a defensive way.
“We’ve missed that sort of knowledge.”