FABRICIO Coloccini’s been backed to shore up Newcastle United’s creaking defence.
Coloccini – who has served a three-game ban – will lead the club out at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow night.
And fit-again James Perch is also pushing for a start against Stoke City.
Coloccini’s absence from United’s starting XI has coincided with three successive Premier League defeats.
Newcastle were beaten 2-0 by Southampton on Sunday on a soggy afternoon at the St Mary’s Stadium when little went right for Alan Pardew’s out-of-sorts side.
And Pardew – who has lost defender Steven Taylor to a hamstring injury – admits the his captain’s influence has been missed on and off the pitch.
“Colo’s back, and I think we’re a little bit uncomfortable without Colo in the side, full stop,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“It’ll be nice to have him back in the changing room on Wednesday night.”
Perch – who has recovered from the groin injury he suffered early this month – came off the bench in injury time against Southampton.
And the utility player could be asked to shore up the club’s midfield – or fill in alongside Coloccini in central defence.
“Perchie’s only trained a couple of days,” added Pardew. “But he’ll be in my thinking for Stoke, if I’m honest.”