Alan Pardew hopes that Newcastle will be strengthened by the return of Fabricio Coloccini on Sunday, when the Magpies host Aston Villa.
The 32-year-old picked up a knee problem in the New Year's Day clash with West Brom, and hasn't been seen since leaving that defeat early. Including the Baggies match, Newcastle have won just one of their eight matches since the start of the year - a dip in form that surely coincides with the loss of their captain.
Newcastle have lost their last three games by a combined scoreline of 10-0. So perhaps, with that in mind, there's a reason why they think the return of Coloccini might work wonders. But the last time the centerback returned from injury layoff, for the 2-1 victory over Norwich, he did nothing to enhance the squad. Despite the fact that the Canaries do a mighty fine job of keeping themselves from scoring (just 19 goals thus far) Coloccini still managed to look inept, to be his side's least competent player by a wide margin. He kept being caught out of position and looked a step behind throughout much of the match.
But let's face it - Newcastle's stuttering performances aren't down to their lack of an aging Argentine. They'll receive a much greater boost from Loïc Rémy returning from suspension. Yet Rémy's return still isn't going to patch up the gaping, Yohan Cabaye shaped hole in midfield. And unless they find some way of actually getting the ball to Rémy, it's going to be quite some time before Newcastle start consistently recording wins again.
"Consistently". Let's remember, they're playing Villa this weekend, and playing Villa is always good for any side looking to bust out of a slump. That's the boost the Magpies need, not the return of Coloccini.
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