Steve McClaren: The captaincy at Newcastle is an ‘issue’ – but Fabricio Coloccini is STILL skipper

Newcastle United's Fabricio Coloccini
Newcastle United's Fabricio Coloccini

Fabricio Coloccini is ready to get his season up and running – and show Steve McClaren why he should keep the captaincy.

Coloccini, linked with Crystal Palace, has worn the skipper’s armband at Newcastle United for the past four years.

But McClaren is keen to see one or two other players captain his team in pre-season.

And the club’s new head coach has admitted that the captaincy is an “issue” for him to address between now and the start of the Premier League campaign on August 9.

However, McClaren – who handed Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote the skipper’s armband in each half against Gateshead on Friday night – insisted that Coloccini will captain the team, if fit, in the meantime.

Coloccini was not involved at the International Stadium, but he could play against Club Atlas in the early hours of tomorrow morning at Miller Park, Milwaukee (2am kick-off BST), in front of a crowd of around 25,000.

Asked about the captaincy, McClaren said: “Look, I know that’s an issue, and something everybody’s interested in.

“But, for me, not for this moment. I’m not thinking about who’s captain, or going to be captain.”

McClaren yesterday addressed the media in the bowels of Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, with Killingworth-born Colback, signed Sunderland last summer.

However, the 54-year-old insisted nothing should be read into Colback’s appearance alongside him at his pre-match Press conference.

“At this moment, Coloccini is the captain,” said McClaren.

“Each game we play, maybe we’ll have a different captain. I like to do that, especially in pre-season.

“For the moment, if Coloccini plays, Coloccini is captain.”

Former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew – who handed Coloccini the captain’s armband after Kevin Nolan left for West Ham United in 2011 – has been linked with a move for the 33-year-old.

But Palace have not tabled a bid for Coloccini, who has one year left on his lucrative St James’s Park contract.

Coloccini was far from his imperious best last season as the club fought to stay in the Premier League.

And the Argentina international’s captaincy came under scrutiny from fans.

Coloccini’s performances were also criticised by the media, and especially Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

Then-head coach John Carver tipped defender Daryl Janmaat to be a future United captain in the latter part of the season, though he did not consider taking the armband from Coloccini, who has served the club for the past seven years.

Meanwhile, McClaren is hopeful of more progress in the transfer market this week.

Newcastle signed midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven last week for £14.5million.

Wijnaldum – who returned to Holland after signing a five-year deal – is expected to link up with his new team-mates on the next leg of the tour in Sacramento.

The club is continuing its efforts to sign £12million-rated striker Aleksander Mitrovic from Anderlecht, while Charlie Austin remains the club’s No1 summer target.

Mitrovic’s family were visited Newcastle on Friday, but the 20-year-old has not yet been given the green light to head to Tyneside.

McClaren was guarded when asked about Mitrovic, a player who is also interesting Porto.

Asked if he admired the Serbia international, McClaren said: “(There are) many players I admire and would like to come to Newcastle. As always, when a player comes through the door, and he’s a Newcastle player, I’ll talk about him.”

United, meanwhile, have not yet bid for striker Austin, who QPR rate in the £15million-bracket.