Fabricio Coloccini’s days at Newcastle United are looking numbered after he was left out against Sheffield United this afternoon.
Newcastle United captain Coloccini was not in the squad for Chris Morgan’s testimonial at Bramall Lane, which ended 2-2.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Siem de Jong were on target for Steve McClaren’s United.
But the main talking point was the continued absence of Coloccini, who has been troubled by an Achilles problem this pre-season.
And Coloccini is now unlikely to be fit enough to play in the August 9 season-opener against Southampton.
There is also a big question mark over his future at the club.
Ex-Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, now in charge of Crystal Palace, has been linked with a move for the 33-year-old, who has spent the past seven years at St James’s Park.
And the club is unlikely to stand in Coloccini’s way should a club come in for him in this summer’s transfer window.
United were captained by defender Daryl Janmaat in his absence.
Newcastle’s approach on a slick and heavy-looking pitch at a soggy Bramall Lane was both positive and patient.
United, backed by around 2,000 fans, attempted to play from the back at Bramall Lane, where Jack Colback and Vurnon Anita dropped deep to collect the ball from defence.
The approach was noticeably different from last season, when games were punctuated by aimless balls forward.
Papiss Demba Cisse struck the post with an early chance, and Wijnaldum put another effort wide
United probed away, but they found chances hard to come by against a physical and well-organised home side who should have taken the lead themselves in the 25th minute.
Che Adams, once a Newcastle target, somehow missed from around eight yards after Jamie Murphy found him with a left-wing cross.
Adams also forced a strong save from Krul with a deflected shot from distance, and Newcastle capitalised on that stop at the other end in the 40th minute.
Wijnaldum seized on the loose ball after goalkeeper George Long slid in to stop a shot from Papiss Demba Cisse, who had latched on to a backpass.
The strike took Wijnaldum’s tally to two goals from two games, the midfielder having scored on his debut against Portland Timbers.
McClaren brought Rolando Aarons on for the second half – the winger replaced Ayoze Perez – and United soon found themselves back on level terms.
The Blades cut through Newcastle’s defence, and Marc McNulty rolled the ball through the legs of the exposed Krul.
United, having controlled the ball for much of the first half, lost their composure after the break , and they had Steven Taylor to thank for a goal-saving headed clearance in the 62nd minute.
Minutes earlier McClaren had replaced Anita with Gabriel Obertan, and de Jong replaced Wijnaldum with 17 minutes left.
The forward scored from close-range at the back post after Cisse flicked on a corner from Colback.
Kieron Freeman, however, levelled for Sheffield United with three minutes left on the clock.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Long, Freeman, Collcins, McEveley, McFadzean, Woolford, Basham, Baxter, Murphy, McNulty, Adams.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Taylor (Lascelles, 69), Haidara; Anita (Obertan, 58), Colback (Gouffran); Sissoko (Abeid, 80), Wijnaldum (De Jong, 73), Perez (Aarons, 46); Cisse (Armstrong, 80). Subs not used: Darlow, Satka.
Goals: Wijnaldum 40, McNulty 49, de Jong 79, Freeman 87
Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)