BY Fabricio Coloccini's high standards, his performances for Newcastle United this season have not been as consistent as supporters had come to expect.

But the Magpies need him now more than ever to try to put the  'personal matters'  to one side - even for the short term.

Whatever is going on in his life outside of football - with the strongest suggestion being that his wife is ill - he has to try to conjure up at least one more performance for the club he captains.

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There is not going to be an easy solution. Newcastle are keen to negotiate a tough trip to Norwich City before focusing on what might lie ahead in the Coloccini saga.

The Argentine, who only signed a four-year contract last season, wants to go back to San Lorenzo, who are not in a position to offer a transfer fee for a player who could quite easily command a £10m sum.

From the outside looking in it is a difficult one to come up with a solution. You can only imagine that for Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias and Alan Pardew the problem is even more difficult.

Should they dig their heels in, demand that he stays until at least the summer before an amicable agreement can be reached - even if it means trying to find an alternative buyer in Argentina?

That way they risk relying on an unhappy (key) player, who has already been struggling to hit top gear during his off-the-field problems. 

Or do they cut free. Bow to Coloccini's request to return home, wave goodbye to a potential transfer fee but then use his £60,000-a-week wages to try to bring in one or two replacements. 

But how do you replace someone like Coloccini on the cheap? £3m-a-year will be saved on the remaining term of his contract, so that could be used to boost a transfer kitty to buy an alternative.

There have been a number of names floated around that are under consideration. All of which would represent a bit of a gamble. That said, though, keeping Coloccini could arguably be the biggest gamble of them all given his state of mind. 

The 30-year-old has been happy to travel to Carrow Road and is said to be positive about things ahead of a meeting in the boardroom on Wednesday which is designed to sort out his future once and for all.

The sooner that meeting takes place the better, then Newcastle can move on and not have another distraction to deal with less than a fortnight after Demba Ba's departure to Chelsea.