FABRICIO Coloccini, the defender who will go to “any lengths” to pull on a Newcastle United jersey, is struggling to be fit for this evening’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Brighton.
However, his boss Alan Pardew knows from experience Coloccini does not know when he is beaten by injury or illness.
The 30-year-old – who has only missed a handful of games in his career at the Sports Direct Arena – was not expected to face Manchester United earlier this season after suffering a back spasm on the eve of the game.
However, the captain declared himself fit on the morning of the match and was outstanding in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in late November.
“I remember the game – he shouldn’t have played as his back spasmed up, but we ended up getting a point,” Pardew said.
“It just goes to show you he’ll go to any lengths to play, if he can.”
Pardew is short of options should Coloccini fail to prove his fitness ahead of the tie at the Amex Stadium.
James Perch has filled in the centre of Pardew’s defence, but Pardew sees him as a defensive midfielder.
Danny Simpson was switched from right-back for Newcastle’s visit to Carrow Road in December and Norwich City took full advantage of a lack of height in United’s defence to win 4-2.
And Pardew will make a late decision on Coloccini’s availability.
Meanwhile, Pardew’s squad left Tyneside for the South Coast yesterday in determined mood.
Newcastle’s FA Cup run was brought to an abrupt end by Stevenage last season.
However, buoyed by their achievements in the first half of the season, Pardew’s players are confident they can get beyond the fourth round for the first time in six years.
“Premier League status is so important. If you’re in trouble, then you want to protect your team in the league,” added Pardew.
“That’s understandable, but we’re not in that position – we’re in a comfortable position in the league and we can attack the competition.
“That’s what we want to do.”