FABRICIO Coloccini is desperate to be fit to lead Newcastle United out against Liverpool on Saturday – after admitting the team haven’t been doing their jobs properly of late.
The Toon skipper is a massive doubt for the game after pulling out of the Argentine squad yesterday with a ‘muscle injury’.
The influential defender was set to start for his country against Uruguay tonight in a dress rehearsal for facing Luis Suarez.
But now he faces a race to be fit for the visit of Suarez and his Liverpool colleagues at the weekend.
Coloccini had been part of a Newcastle team which beat Cardiff City in their last outing to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Alan Pardew after back to back Premier League defeats.
And he says there’s a determination in the camp to build on that success against a Liverpool side which has made a strong start to the campaign.
“We’re playing for the manager, each other and the fans,” Coloccini told SportMail. “We’re focused on the next game.
“We hadn’t been doing our jobs very well, but we got a win and three points.”
Whether the 31-year-old is fit to face Liverpool is doubtful.
Coloccini was an unused substitute against Peru on Friday, but with Argentina having already qualified for the World Cup finals, he was expected to start in their last qualifier against Uruguay tonight. But a statement on their website last night said: “The coaching staff today released Fabricio Coloccini because of a muscle injury.”
The defender has jetted back to Tyneside for treatment, with Pardew and his medical staff set to assess the defender’s condition today.
Coloccini was partnered by the Mike Williamson at Cardiff, and if the skipper is not fit enough in time to face Liverpool, Pardew could hand a recall to Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, or risk throwing Steven Taylor ack into the fray after he returned to training from a hamstring strain.
Whatever the partnership, the United backline will have to be at its best to cope with the pace and movement of Suarez and in-form England striker Daniel Sturridge.
Coloccini though was heartened as much by the team’s defending against Cardiff as its attacking given the lapses which cost United against Everton and Hull.
“We played very well in the first half, but we looked a bit tired in the second half,” said the centre-half, speaking after the game in the Welsh capital.
“I think we kept the shape and worked hard, and that’s why we took the result.
“I think all the team worked very well in defence and attack. That’s very important, and it does make a difference. When all of the team defends well, that makes a difference.”
– ROSS GREGORY