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Coloccini will be back soon from injury
FABRICIO COLOCCINI is expected to make his Newcastle United return before the end of the month.
Coloccini is in his native Argentina recovering from the two broken bones in his back sustained in last month’s 4-2 win over Southampton.
The Magpies skipper damaged his back while attempting an overhead clearance, and it was initially feared he could miss the remainder of the campaign.
However, his recovery is ahead of schedule, and he is due to return to Tyneside in the next couple of weeks.
His compatriot, Jonas Gutierrez, has been in regular contact, and while Coloccini will miss the first leg of Newcastle’s Europa League quarter- final with Benfica, he could be available for the return at St James’ Park.
“When he got the injury, they said it would be about six to eight weeks,” said Gutierrez, who was a guest of honour at the Newcastle United Foundation’s inaugural Hall of Fame dinner on Wednesday.
“But when you talk about Colo, we know he can do it quicker.
“He always does the right things and he doesn’t have any problems, so we will see him soon.
“I spoke with him and he’s feeling better. It’s a long-term injury so it’s going to be hard to bring him back in the condition he left.
“But we know what type of professional he is and we all want him back to play full games. We want him back as quickly as possible because he’s really important for us.”
The international break means Newcastle are not in action until they travel to Manchester City a week on Saturday.
Five days after that, they face Benfica in the Stadium of Light in a quarter-final tie that has the potential to be one of the greatest fixtures in the club’s European history.
Benfica are unbeaten in 23 Primeira Liga matches this season, and boast a four-point lead over their closest challengers, Porto.
They are arguably the strongest team left in this season’s Europa League, but Gutierrez insists he is unconcerned at the prospect of facing such powerful opposition.
“When you reach the quarter- finals of a competition as strong as the Europa League, every team you play against is going to be strong,” said the Argentine. “The team that we have been drawn against is very hard, but I expected that because any team with the ability to get into the last eight of this competition is going to be very strong.
“Having said that, it is a good draw for us because we are not playing against an English team. That was the one thing we didn’t want.
“Benfica are giants of European football, so this is a great tie for us. It is great for the fans and great for us players – it is a dream tie in that way.
“They will normally play in the Champions League, they’ve got a great stadium and very good players. It will be tough but the priority for us is going to the Stadium of Light and bringing something back for the second leg.