Quiet man Fabricio Coloccini has finally found his voice at Newcastle United, believes head coach Steve McClaren.
The Argentinian club captain played a key role in last weekend’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth, having been struggling for form, and playing catch-up with his fitness, after missing the pre-season campaign amid interest from Crystal Palace.
But the 33-year-old led by example at the Vitality Stadium, where Newcastle were put firmly on the back foot by Eddie Howe’s side.
Coloccini – not as vocal on the field as Kevin Nolan, his predecessor as skipper – won praise from McClaren, who said: “He leads by example. We’ve talked to him a lot about the responsibility and the role that he has within the team.
“Once he came back and committed to us and bought in, he’s been terrific. I think he’s becoming more vocal, and that’s something we’re encouraging. If we keep on this way, then we’ll be OK. He has to lead by example to gain that respect.
“He knows and we tell him – as captain, you have to make sure that you do your job first, and make sure you do it well.
“On Saturday, when we needed him, he was really top drawer.”
McClaren also felt Coloccini, often at his best when Newcastle are up against it, showed his leadership qualities in the early-season goalless draw at Old Trafford.
“Fabricio was terrific against Manchester United,” said McClaren.
“It’s a collective thing, and maybe sometimes, Fabricio tries to plug the gaps of everybody.
“Sometimes, he tries to look after everybody instead of looking after his own game, and that can expose him.
“When Colo’s at his best, he concentrates on his job and I think that was the case on Saturday. He did that excellently, and it was a good job we had him.”
Coloccini is among the players not away with their countries during the international break.
McClaren will start preparations for next Saturday’s home game against Leicester City in earnest when the rest of his squad returns to Tyneside next week.