Coloccini closing in on return – but won’t make derby battle

FRUSTRATION ... Coloccini.
FRUSTRATION ... Coloccini.

FABRICIO Coloccini is close to making a return to full training – but Newcastle United’s captain won’t be fit to face Sunderland.

Coloccini could be back on the practice field next week ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby at St James’s Park on February 1.

But United manager Alan Pardew doesn’t expect the 31-year-old – who he says is “desperate” to get back on the pitch – to be available until later next month.

Coloccini suffered a knee injury in Newcastle’s 2-1 New Year’s Day defeat to West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

And the 31-year-old is making good progress in his rehabilitation.

“I think he’ll return to training, maybe the Sunderland week,” Pardew told the Gazette. “He certainly won’t play against Sunderland. Maybe the week after, or maybe the week after that.”

The Sunderland game is followed by a visit to Chelsea on February 8, and a home fixture against Tottenham Hotspur four days later.

“It’s frustrating for Colo,” said Pardew, who will have Mathieu Debuchy back from suspension for the January 28 game against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

“Colo’s desperate to play football – he just wants to play.”

Coloccini, a near-ever present in his first four seasons at United, has been troubled by a series of injuries over the past year and a half.

The Argentina international had a spell out with a groin problem earlier in the campaign.