JAMES Perch is set for an extended run in Newcastle United’s defence – with Fabricio Coloccini facing another two games on the sidelines.
Coloccini won’t be involved in the Easter Friday visit to Swansea City.
The defender – who has a hamstring problem – is almost certainly out of Easter Monday’s home game against Bolton Wanderers.
However, manager Alan Pardew has been heartened by Perch’s form in recent games, the utility player having played in midfield and defence.
The 26-year-old was outstanding alongside Mike Williamson in the heart of Pardew’s back four in yesterday’s 2-0 Premier League win over Liverpool.
United fans were singing a new song in his honour – “We’ve got Perchinio” – from the stands after every tackle and interception from the former Nottingham Forest captain, whose Newcastle career, up to now, has largely been spent on the fringes.
Pardew felt Perch was his best player in the hugely significant result, which stretched the gap between sixth-placed Newcastle and Liverpool to 11 points.
“He was outstanding, and you have to say he was our best player,” Pardew said.
Perch was involved in the late controversy that saw Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina sent off.
Reina was dismissed for pushing his face towards Perch’s after a trip by the Newcastle man. The keeper barely brushed Perch’s face, but the Newcastle player went down clutching his face.
Papiss Cisse was the Magpies’ two-goal hero, showing £35million man Andy Carroll how to do it.
The Gateshead-born frontman’s unhappy return ended with 11 minutes left when he was substituted after he had been serenaded with a resounding chorus of: “what a waste of money”, while fellow old boy Jose Enrique, who had earlier been taunted over his claims that Newcastle would never again challenge for the top six, spent the final few minutes in goal with manager Kenny Dalglish having used all his substitutes.
Carroll’s opening 45 minutes did not go as he would have liked as he became involved in a series of physical tussles after being booked for a blatant ninth-minute dive in an attempt to win a penalty.
His fortunes did not improve when he was presented with his first real chance with 28 minutes.
By that point, his side were already trailing as a patched-up Newcastle team defended deep and in numbers, but hit the visitors repeatedly on the break.
Krul had tipped a Bellamy cross on to the bar and full-back Danny Simpson bundled the ball off the line with his arm after the Dutchman had spilled Steven Gerrard’s cross.
It should have been a penalty and a red card, but Newcastle escaped.
The home side went ahead after 19 minutes. Hatem Ben Arfa skipped away from Jay Spearing and then Jonjo Shelvey to send the perfect cross to the far post for Cisse to rise and head past Reina.
Cisse should really have made it 2-0 with four minutes of the half remaining when Danny Guthrie crossed from the right and he sent a downward header past Reina, but wide of the post.
The woodwork came to Liverpool’s rescue within three minutes of the restart when Williamson climbed highest to head Guthrie’s cross against the foot of the post.
Bellamy only just failed to reach Gerrard’s inviting 56th-minute cross and Shelvey drilled the ball straight at Krul.
But when the game’s second goal arrived, it did so at the other end, and it was Cisse who again did the damage.
Ba stabbed the ball across goal where Ben Arfa helped it on to Cisse, and he calmly stepped inside Reina before firing home.
Luis Suarez might have reduced the deficit within three minutes, but his effort was blocked by Perch.
Carroll was withdrawn to a chorus of boos and went straight down the tunnel, and Liverpool’s hopes were finally dashed when Reina senselessly pushed his forehead against Perch’s nine minutes from time as was sent off.
Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Cabaye, Guthrie (Gosling), Ben Arfa (Santon), Gutierrez, Tiote, Cisse (Sh Ameobi), Ba. Subs: Elliot, R Taylor, Ferguson, Vuckic.
Liverpool: Reina, Jose Enrique, Carragher, Skrtel, Flanagan, Gerrard, Spearing, Shelvey (Downing), Suarez, Carroll (Kuyt), Bellamy (Henderson). Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Coates, Maxi.
Ref: Atkinson Att: 52,363.