sport

Coloccini staying with Magpies

Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini will remain with the club until at least the end of this season and will stay on as captain.

After days of delicate negotiation following the 31-year-old defender's request to be allowed to return to Argentina because of personal problems, he has agreed to stay on Tyneside and will continue as skipper.

Manager Alan Pardew said: "Coloccini is going to stay with us and will remain as captain, which is fantastic news for us.

"We have managed to persuade him that, as much as his family, we need him. He has shown fantastic loyalty to come and play and see us through to the summer at the very least.

"The psychology of these particular problems he has had has been difficult for him. He has played under duress emotionally, rather than physically, and that's just as demanding as having an injured leg, for example.

"But I am clear in my mind that we have cleared up a few things and that he knows where he stands here.

"He needs to understand he has a responsibility to our fans and players and staff here because there will be jobs lost if we don't make it.

"He is going to be a massive influence on whether we get out of the situation we are in."

The battle to retain Coloccini's services was unforeseen, but became a major focus among the frenzy of the January transfer window with Newcastle, however sympathetic they were to his difficulties, insistent they were not going to tear up his contract just when they needed him most.

His continued presence at St James' Park and the return to fitness of key midfielder Yohan Cabaye are as welcome to Pardew as the arrival of French quartet Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran and Massadio Haidara.

The manager said: "It's a lift and you can definitely feel that lift on the training ground, 100 per cent.

"But the bigger lift is probably the Coloccini news and the Cabaye news for our fans because we are not going to sign two better players than them in this window.

"They are fantastic players. One of them is up to full speed and the other is staying until the summer and will hopefully lead us to safety - and hopefully better."

The Magpies recruitment drive is ongoing - Pardew confirmed they were hopeful of securing a deal for Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko, but admitted that currently falls within the "perhaps" category - but the squad has already been strengthened immeasurably.

A 2-1 home defeat by struggling Reading last time out proved the final straw for the manager.

Pardew said: "The Reading game was a watershed moment for me and showed that we needed to take action.

"I thought regardless of substitutions and everything else and the mood of the stadium, the second-half performance wasn't good enough for us, and that was one too many for me.

"There were key areas in the team that needed strengthening because the most important thing for a Premier League team is competition.

"Some of these players have been playing under no pressure in terms of their performances perhaps, but they will be better with competition."

The most recent arrivals have taken the Magpies' French contingent up to 11, and former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier has voiced the opinion that the presence of so many players from one country could create an imbalance within the dressing room.

However, Pardew dismissed his concerns.

He said: "I don't see it as any problem. It's just about getting good players, and we need good players. Hopefully we have done that."