Fabricio Coloccini is closing in on a return to first-team action, according to Alan Pardew.
Whilst Colo is yet to resume full physical training, he has been doing fitness work for a week or so and will be tested this week to see if he is ready to return in any of our final four league games of the season.
This poses an interesting problem for our manager. What do you do if he is fit enough to return? Do you put him straight back into the team given the fact that he is our captain and is arguably our best defender on his day? Or do you stick with the Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor partnership which, aside from a couple of blips, has generally been fine and seems to be getting better?
The issue is clouded even more with the uncertainty surrounding the future of Coloccini who may well be off in the summer anyway. So do you then focus on the shorter term aim of staying up by including a player who hasn’t played since the 4-2 win over Southampton in February or do you continue with what is likely to be our first-choice defensive partnership next season, barring any new central defensive recruits in the summer of course.
I really don’t know. If Colo had been in the same kind of form he was in last season then these questions would have easier answers and Colo would walk straight back into the team for me.
But it’s not that simple. Colo hasn’t been great this season. He’s shown flashes of what he can do such as his performance away at Sunderland but, much like the rest of the squad, he’s failed to hit the heights of last season consistently enough this term.
I honestly can’t make my mind up but I think a lot of that is to do with the nonsense in January which is playing on my mind a bit.
So, lacking in match fitness, would you usher Colo straight back into the team in the hope that he can hit the ground running? Or do you stick with Yanga-Mbiwa and Taylor at the heart of defence?
Stick or twist?