STEVEN Taylor believes captain Fabricio Coloccini is the key to leading Newcastle United to safety this season.
Coloccini returned from injury against West Ham United at the weekend.
The clean sheet Newcastle kept at Upton Park owed much to Coloccini’s renewed presence and leadership in the heart of a defence which had conceded six goals against Liverpool a week earlier.
Coloccini’s absence had been keenly felt by Newcastle as the club lurched towards the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Time is running out fast for Coloccini to lead the club away from trouble, with Newcastle having just two games left, with relegated Queens Park Rangers first up at Loftus Road on Sunday.
And Taylor, his long-standing defensive partner, is just relieved he is back in a black and white shirt after two months on the sidelines with a back problem.
“We have a great partnership together,” said Taylor.
“The defence against West Ham was very good, along with the midfield. We needed that. The fans wanted a response and they got one.”
Newcastle, still under threat from Wigan despite last night’s home defeat to Swansea, need to beat QPR to pull away from Roberto Martinez’s FA Cup finalists.
“We can only concentrate on ourselves,” said long-serving Taylor. “In the past two years they (Wigan) seem to do well at this time of the season, but we can’t rely on what they do.
“We just need to focus on ourselves. If we get three points, it could help put this to bed and move us up the table.”
The build-up to the West Ham game was dominated by talk of dressing room unrest, but Taylor maintains Pardew’s squad is united.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and that’s what you get,” said the 27-year-old. “People try to upset us and try to get in amongst the gaffer and the players. They mention the French players all week and the gaffer.
“One week you can be getting pats on the back, and within one game it can change.”