Fabricio Coloccini is a doubt for Newcastle United’s home game against Liverpool after picking up an injury while training with Argentina.
The Magpies’ captain was sent home before tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay.
“The coaching staff today released Fabricio Coloccini because of a muscle injury,” explained the Argentinian Football Association’s website last night.
Coloccini did not feature in Friday’s game against Peru, but having already qualified for the World Cup, Argentina are expected to name a more experimental line-up tonight, which he had been expected to feature in.
Newcastle have had problems at centre-back all season, but Coloccini has not been one of them. While his partners have changed, he has been an ever-present in this season’s Premier League.
Steven Taylor, who is fit again after injury, started the season as Coloccini’s partner, but was sent off on the opening day at Manchester City.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa replaced him, but looked unsettled against physical forwards, and lost his place for the last game, at Cardiff City. Mike Williamson made his first league start of the season in South Wales.
Coloccini is returning for treatment, but with Saturday’s game kicking off at 12.45pm, he will have little time to get ready when he has returned from South America.
Assuming he does not make it, Magpies manager Alan Pardew must now decide which combination to field against Liverpool, where centre-forwards Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have a combined nine goals in as many Premier League starts this season.
Meanwhile, Massadio Haidara hopes to be back playing within a week as he looks to make up for lost time this season.
The French left-back featured in Liverpool’s 6-0 win at St James’ Park on April 27. Almost six months to the day, the Reds will be back on Tyneside for Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off, but Haidara has not played since suffering knee problems in pre-season.
The Liverpool match is the only 90 minutes Haidara has completed since Callum McManaman’s horror tackle in March.
The 20-year-old made good progress after joining from Nancy in the second half of last season, but in his absence Paul Dummett has arguably moved above him in the pecking order.
“My fitness is not yet at its peak, but it’s getting stronger,” Haidara said. “I’m getting better with every week.
“It’s been difficult for me this season because I was out injured for three months but now I’m much better so I hope to be back playing within a week.”
Haidara was speaking at Walker Activity Dome, where he and team-mate Vurnon Anita took part in a coaching session with 24 disabled youngsters from Woodlawn School in North Tyneside and a question-and-answer session afterwards.
They were there on behalf of the Newcastle United Foundation, which has received a £75,000 Children in Need grant to fund its disability football coaching sessions for the next three years. Haidara had hoped to be involved in last week’s testimonial game for cricketer Stephen Harmison, but was pulled out late from the squad which took on a Northumberland XI of Northern League footballers and professional cricketers.
The Magpies Under-21s have one remaining match scheduled this month, against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Friday.
Rather than be disheartened by the emergence of Dummett, who spent last season on loan at St Mirren, Haidara believes greater competition can only improve him.
“Paul Dummett has really improved since last season and it adds to the competition in the squad,” he commented.
“With Davide Santon as well it’s even better for the team because me, Paul and Davide all know we have to work hard if we want to play at the weekend.
“It’s why I joined this club, to improve my game.”