NEWCASTLE UNITED will not be signing a centre-half during this month’s transfer window despite Fabricio Coloccini facing more than a month on the sidelines.
Coloccini damaged his medial knee ligaments in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom, and while he does not require surgery, the Argentinian is unlikely to be available until the start of February at the earliest.
With Mathieu Debuchy also facing a three-match absence through suspension, it had been suggested that the Magpies would enter the transfer market to strengthen their defensive resources, with Everton defender John Heitinga erroneously linked with a loan move earlier this week.
However, Alan Pardew has categorically ruled out signing a central defender this month, with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor both available to step into the heart of the back four.
“I don’t think it (Coloccini’s injury) means me making a transfer,” said the Newcastle boss, ahead of this afternoon’s FA Cup third-round tie with Cardiff City. “I’ve seen about three or four centre-halves linked with us, but I don’t see why I should do that.
“I’ve Mapou here, who we paid £8.5m for, and he was very unlucky to come out of the team when he was doing well. We’ve also got Steven Taylor, who we know is a great player so I can’t see there being a situation where I need to do a knee-jerk reaction to bring a centre-half in.
“Colo’s injury is a grade two, and therefore doesn’t need surgery. It’s a process of four to six weeks maximum, but he tends to be a good healer so we’re hoping it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”
Yanga-Mbiwa is expected to replace Coloccini this afternoon, with Davide Santon switching to right-back in place of Debuchy and Massadio Haidara making only his second start of the season in the left-back berth.
Newcastle’s problems do not end there, however, as Tim Krul and Yohan Cabaye also sustained injuries in Wednesday’s defeat at the Hawthorns. Neither is expected to start this afternoon, meaning Rob Elliot will make a rare appearance.
Pardew was planning to make changes for the FA Cup anyway, and the Magpies manager has confirmed he will promote Hatem Ben Arfa to the starting line-up as he looks to record only the second FA Cup victory of his time on Tyneside.
The Frenchman has made just one Premier League start since October, with Pardew preferring to field Yoan Gouffran in a wide position and opting for Shola Ameobi up front when he has reshuffled his strike force.
Ben Arfa has made a positive impact in a number of recent substitute appearances – most notably when he came off the bench to score in last month’s 3-0 win at Crystal Palace – but Pardew is demanding much more from him this afternoon.
While there is no desire to sell the 26-year-old, the inconsistencies within his play are clearly beginning to frustrate his manager.
“The only one I’ll confirm as playing is Hatem,” said Pardew. “He will definitely start. Our fans have been desperate for him to start, but having said that, in the cameos he’s had, I only think he’s done okay.
“That’s my opinion. He needs to get a really good game under his belt if he’s going to force his way into the Premier League team, and this is a great opportunity for him. He’s the only one that at this stage I’m going to say is definitely playing.”
Newcastle comprehensively outplayed Cardiff as they recorded a 2-1 league success in South Wales in October, but the Bluebirds have changed their manager since then and today’s game represents a managerial debut for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
The former Manchester United striker was confirmed as Malky Mackay’s successor earlier this week, having agreed to take over at the Cardiff City Stadium despite the eccentricities of the club’s owner, Vincent Tan.
Tan dismissed Mackay after the pair’s relationship suffered an irreparable breakdown, and within the game, there is a great deal of sympathy for the manager who took Cardiff to the Championship title last season.
Pardew knows Mackay well having managed the former defender during his time at West Ham, and was sad to see him lose his post.
However, having suffered a similar fate when he was sacked at Southampton despite leading the Saints to a Wembley final and the top of the League One table, Pardew accepts that when a relationship goes sour, it is best for both parties to go their separate ways.
“The relationship had got to a point where it wasn’t going to continue, and I understand that,” he said. “I’ve been in that position myself.
“It’s a situation where the chairmen in the Premier League all have their own ways. He (Tan) has his own way, but he’s chosen Ole to be his manager and now he has to defend that, and the only way to defend it is to support him and give him the players he wants.
“He obviously didn’t want to do that with Malky, so therefore it wasn’t going to continue. Malky’s experienced enough to know that and will move on.”