Coloccini injury could spark a defensive crisis on Tyneside
Thinly spread squad and failure to invest could cost Pardew's men
Newcastle are sweating on the severity of the injury of another defender after Fabricio Coloccini limped out of training with the Argentina national squad.
After a halfway decent start to the season, the Toon are priced way back at 14/1 to improve upon last term’s fifth-place finish and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
However, they can ill-afford having inspirational defender and captain Coloccini sitting on the sidelines for an extended spell, especially with two tough away fixtures against Everton and Manchester United sandwiching Chris Hughton’s Tyneside return with Norwich.
Currently Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson are on the Newcastle treatment table but, as full-backs, their absences will not create as big a void in the defence, with young midfielder Gael Bigirimana filling in aptly against Aston Villa last time out.
30-year-old Coloccini started 35 Premier League games last year and marshalled his back line to keeping 14 shut outs as the Magpies surprised themselves and punters alike by mounting a top-four challenge.
If they’re to repeat that feat this year – a huge ask even with a fully fit squad – key players will need to have another relatively injury-free season and the Argentine unarguably falls into that bracket.
The need for this has been amped up even higher through Alan Pardew’s relative inactivity in the transfer market over the summer.
With the exception of Vurnon Anita, Newcastle scarcely drafted in any individuals who can add to the depth of their squad, investing instead in future prospects, namely the aforementioned Bigirimana.
Their fellow Champions League contenders – the likes of Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal – have all invested in various areas of their squads and this could give each of them a major edge over Newcastle in the race for a top-four finish.
They tried and failed to lure to Brazilian Douglas from Twente to the Sports Direct Arena which has left them perilously short of central defensive cover.
With Mike Williamson considered inadequate at the top level, James Perch – a makeshift Premier League centre back, in the extreme – was the man who deputised for Coloccini when he missed the season opener against Spurs.
They recorded a valuable win that day but Perch doesn’t have quality to regularly keep teams at bay so, if their star stopper is facing a lengthy spell with the physio, the already sizeable 14/1 for Newcastle to finish in the top four could start to grow at a rapid rate.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.