Fabricio Coloccini could yet lead Newcastle United out on the opening day of the season – but his days at the club look numbered.
Coloccini missed yesterday’s pre-season game against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane through injury.
The club’s long-serving captain had also sat out the four previous friendlies because of a niggling Achilles problem, though he was in full training last week.
And the 33-year-old, pictured out in Jesmond yesterday while his team-mates played out a 2-2 draw against Sheffield United, will now be assessed ahead of this week’s final two warm-up fixtures against York City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Head coach Steve McClaren said he still wants Coloccini to play in the club’s season-opener against Southampton on August 9.
But Newcastle, it seems, could be willing to listen to offers for Coloccini, who has served the club for the past seven years.
I know things were difficult last season, but I want him out on the field in a Newcastle shirt playing for the team. I’m confident he will be.Steve McClaren
Coloccini’s own intentions are unclear, with the Argentina international having not spoken publicly since reporting back for the start of pre-season training.
After Chris Morgan’s testimonial, McClaren said Coloccini, linked with a move to Crystal Palace, had been one of United’s “best” performers in training.
Asked if Coloccini had a future at the club, McClaren said: “I hope that (he has), and it’s great that I’m coming in fresh because you’re not labelling everybody.
“I’ve looked at the squad – I’ve looked at Coloccini in training – and he’s one of our best players.
“I know things were difficult last season, but I want him out on the field in a Newcastle shirt playing for the team. I’m confident he will be.”
Coloccini travelled with his team-mates to the USA for the club’s three-game tour of the country, but he felt playing on the harder surfaces there, and especially the artificial pitch in Portland, would be a risk.
McClaren says Coloccini has to play in Saturday’s final friendly against Monchengladbach if he is to be considered for the Southampton match.
“We want him playing,” said McClaren. “Unfortunately, he’s got a little niggle. That’s got to be taken care of.
“He’s working on his conditioning. In America he was out (training) most of the time, but because of the surface he didn’t play in the last game. He’s got a little niggle, so we’re still working.
“He needs a good week this week – he needs to play on Saturday – but we need him in the team, and if he gets that, I think he can be available for Southampton.”
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has been linked with a move for his former captain at St James’s Park.
United, however, have not had a bid for Coloccini.
Asked about reports linking Colocini with Palace, McClaren said: “I’ve come in and they’ve told me to assess the squad.
“I’ve been delighted with Colo’s attitude, certainly in training and the way he is around the place. That’s great, but we need him on the field.”