Sunderland v Newcastle Utd: McClaren’s faith in captain Coloccini ahead of crucial derby

Fabricio Coloccini

Fabricio Coloccini

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Fabricio Coloccini has been backed to keep a cool head in the heat of tomorrow’s Wear-Tyne derby – and lead Newcastle by example at the Stadium of Light.

Captain Coloccini, who has struggled for form this season, has also had to play catch-up with his fitness after missing all of the Magpies’ pre-season games.

But head coach Steve McClaren feels Coloccini – who was handed a new deal in the summer – has come through a “difficult” start to the season alongside summer signing Chancel Mbemba ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Sunderland.

And he also believes the 33-year-old has the “composure and control” his team will need at the Stadium of Light in order to end a run of five successive derby defeats.

“(Chancel) Mbemba and Colo missed pre-season, came straight in,” said McClaren.

“It’s been difficult, quite a lot of players like that that we signed late.

“So they’ve adapted, and leadership is a big thing. Composure, control.

“And you could be 21 and have that maturity to do that and that’s what – what are these games about.

“What every game is about. We’ve seen that.

“If you don’t control yourself against Arsenal, against whoever, you get sent off. So it’s about every game, approaching it the same way – why should this game be different?”

Coloccini was wanted by former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace in the summer, but he ended up signing a contract extension at St James’s Park.

“There were a few opportunities and offers to leave the club,” said Coloccini, now in his eighth season on Tyneside.

“So I went to the club and said ‘I want to stay, but it’s up to you if you want me to be part of the new project with the new manager’.

“I said ‘I want to be here’, and they wanted me here, so it wasn’t difficult to get the deal.”

Follow all the build-up, action and reaction to the derby on our matchday blog