Newcastle United’s James Perch is ready to step into the breach

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JAMES Perch is ready to answer Newcastle United’s defensive SOS against Liverpool.

The defender is on standby to play at centre-half with Fabricio Coloccini set to miss Sunday’s home game with a hamstring strain.

Coloccini suffered the injury in Sunday’s 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

The 30-year-old was today getting the injury scanned, with the club’s captain fearing it will sideline him until the visit to Swansea City on Good Friday.

Versatile Perch – who ably switched from left-back to central defence after Coloccini’s withdrawal at The Hawthorns – is ready to again deputise in a game which could have a huge bearing on Newcastle’s finishing position in the Premier League.

What’s more, he could be tasked with stopping his former United team-mate Andy Carroll.

“Obviously, Colo’s come off the pitch, and that’s a massive blow for us,” Perch said.

“He’s our captain and one of our best players. I had to go and fill in at centre-half, and I really enjoyed it.

“He’s massive for us – he has been for a number of years now. I think everyone at the club was delighted when he signed a new contract.

“When he’s injured, we all know what a big miss he is, but with the quality, togetherness and team morale in the squad, we should be able to cope if he isn’t fit.”

The West Brom result, which followed the previous weekend’s 1-0 success against Norwich City, took sixth-placed United level with Chelsea, in fifth, and eight points clear of Liverpool ahead of their visit to Tyneside.

Hatem Ben Arfa ran riot at The Hawthorns, netting once and setting up two goals for Papiss Demba Cisse.

“It was a massive win,” added Perch. “When we had 10 games to go, we set targets for ourselves.

“It’s a massive 10 games for us if we’re going to achieve what we want to achieve, and we’ve started off with two wins.

“This one was the better one of the two because its away from home.”