After limping off during the 3-1 victory against West Brom on Sunday, there were fears that Coloccini could miss up to three or four weeks. However, after a hamstring scan at the Benton training ground today, the medical staff were relieved to report that he’d only suffered a Grade 1 tear.
This means that thankfully, he’ll only miss two matches; Sunday’s home game against Liverpool and the Good Friday journey to Swansea City. However, during those two matches, we will need a suitable replacement to fill the influential Argentine’s boots, with both Liverpool and Swansea posing a genuine attacking threat.
However, it seems that Pardew will not have to look too hard for a replacement, with James Perch providing more than adequate cover. The versatile defender was one of the best performers on Sunday after replacing Colo just before half-time, but it wasn’t the first time he’s impressed this season.
He has made 20 appearances this term for the club and has proven his ability to adapt to the fast-changing style of the Premier League’s most improved team of the year. However, if you had told the fans back in July that he would be one of the club’s most improved players of the season, you would have been laughed at.
He was written off last season by many of the Newcastle United fans. Some dire performances against the likes of West Brom last term led fans to believe he didn’t have the quality to make it in the top flight of English football. Because of this, he failed to make the pre-season squad touring America last Summer, and instead ventured to Holland with the reserve side. However, he has proven both the critics and Alan Pardew wrong this season, coming back stronger than ever and looking a completely different player
It’s amazing what a difference can be made when you start players in their favoured position. Perch is a testament to this point, having really impressed this season, playing in his preferred central midfield-defensive role. Previously he had been played as left/right-back but didn’t acquire the pace or the required experience to match some of the best wingers in the league.
The main reason for this unexpected improvement is down to the mental strength of Perch. He must have had a lot of pressure on him last season, having just moved to the North-East to find himself the target of abuse from the expectant Geordie fans. However, he has worked his socks off for the team and will always give his all to make every tackle or pass.
I would group him in the same category as Shola Ameobi. Although he doesn’t always make the headlines, he will always give 100% and can be considered an unsung hero. There are unsung heros in every sucesful side and I reckon, if he can continue to put in the dedicated performances, then he will be instrumental in helping Newcastle to qualify for Europe; a feat which must now must be the club’s principal target.
As a side, Newcastle have proved many critics wrong this season (especially Alan Hansen), and James Perch is a fine example of the commendable changes that have been undertaken in Newcastle this year. Let’s hope that he, along with the club itself, can continue to deny the highly-financed sides from buying their way into Europe.