ALAN Pardew believes Jack Colback’s move from Sunderland to Newcastle United has played a part in the midfielder’s first call-up to the England squad.
Colback was a surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s squad for next Wednesday’s friendly with Norway at Wembley the opening Euro 2010 qualifier against Switzerland in Basel a week on Monday.
The 24-year-old, who is the first Newcastle player to be called up to a squad since Steven Taylor in March 2013, is one of four uncapped players in the squad and the England boss jokingly referred to Colback as the “Ginger Pirlo” at his press conference yesterday.
“I’ve seen him called ‘the Ginger Pirlo’ in some places,” Hodgson said.
“Jack has an awful lot to offer and he plays in an area we have lost players like Gerrard, Lampard and Carrick.
“With those players out of the equation, Colback and Fabian Delph can step in to take their chance.”
The Killingworth-born midfielder joined the Magpies on a free transfer in the summer having left rivals Sunderland at the end of last season.
“It’s great for North-East football because he did a lot for this call-up at Sunderland,” Pardew said. “I think he’s ticked a couple of boxes here though that are important for an England manager.
“One, he has moved to a local rival and he has handled it well. And then he has come into our team and played well, and that has ticked another box for the England manager.
“I think the move has had a part to play. But you have to put this all at Jack’s door, he has been terrific.
“I think he could play a number of potential roles for England. For him, it is a great boost and it is for us to.
“Sunderland fans knew he was our player anyway, they just stole him for a little while.”
Pardew singled out Colback as Newcastle’s outstanding performer in the opening day defeat to reigning champions Manchester City, and the Magpies boss admits he always knew he had signed a player capable of receiving international recognition.
Pardew said: “I said when he signed, ‘I think you can play for England, I think that should be your goal’.
“I didn’t think it would come this quick to be honest and I didn’t even think it was coming today, because we got a call about whether he was fit, and I kind of marked his card, ‘They must be keeping an eye on you because they’ve asked about your fitness, so that is good, maybe the next squad.’
“And low and behold, 30 minutes later, he was in. It was a nice surprise, for me, him, the club, and for Sunderland actually.”
Colback left the Stadium of Light when his contract expired at the start of the summer having failed to negotiate the terms of an extension, but Black Cats head coach Gus Poyet insisted he is happy for the midfielder.
“He was a good lad, I knew what I was getting,” said Poyet. “I think we helped him a lot because he was a left-back when I came here. Now he is a recognised central midfielder, which is good for him. It is nice to see him playing well, it just wasn't nice to see him playing for Newcastle. But we get on with it.
“The most important thing to say was it was his decision, not mine, not the club's. It was his decision.”
Colback is fit for Newcastle’s home match against Crystal Palace tomorrow after shaking off a knock. Chieck Tiote remains on the sidelines, but Rolando Aarons, who was named in England’s Under-20 squad for their game with Romania, is also available despite limping off in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup win.
Pardew quashed rumours linking the club with a move for Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, and the Magpies boss admitted players will have to leave in order for more to come in.
Reports in France have suggested Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who is also out of tomorrow’s game through injury, has agreed to join Marseille on loan, although Pardew refused to comment on any speculation, including a reported fresh approach for Loic Remy.