Newcastle short of defenders for trip to Norwich City
Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has to solve a deepening defensive injury crisis ahead of the Magpies' Premier League visit to Norwich City on Saturday.
Former England U21 skipper Steven Taylor could be ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on an Achilles injury damaged in the weekend 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea.
Skipper Fabricio Coloccini (thigh) is also a major doubt for the Carrow Road trip after reports in the north-east suggested the Argentine could be out for up to a fortnight.
With Mike Williamson (ankle) targeting a return against Swansea later on this month and Hungarian defender Tamas Kadar seemingly out of the first team picture at St James' Park, Pardew faces the prospect of taking on the Canaries without a specialist centre-back.
The Newcastle manager had been able to field the same back five for all 14 of United's Premier League matches this season, but former Nottingham Forest youngster James Perch could be forced to deputise in an unfamiliar role.
'The injuries are our biggest concern now as we look ahead,' he said. 'Colo has a thigh strain, we hope it doesn't tear. We'll have to scan them to find out how serious they are.
'We've been a bit unfortunate in the last three games, we've not had our best squad to pick from, no (Jonas) Guti�rrez, no Cheick (Tiote), the two centre-halves were off the pitch for the last ten minutes at the weekend and yet I still look at my team and they're competitive.
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'Once we lost Williamson we were always in trouble. Up until now we've been really unfortunate to have them both (Taylor and Coloccini) every week, but at some point in the season you're going to get into difficult situations and it looks like we're in a difficult situation – but the spirit of the group will remain strong and we go to the next game.'
The versatile Perch is ready to slot in wherever he is needed.
'We lost two centre-halves on Saturday, which is not ideal for any team and we have only got those two centre-halves, really,' he said. 'It looks like we are going to have bodies filling in and doing the best we can do. That's all we can do.
'I have had this question since I was 16-years-old, 'Where do I prefer to play?' and it's one of those. Whichever one I say, I always tend to do the other one the week after, so I am just going to say I like playing football and wherever I play, I am happy with it.'
Newcastle's midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye admits the potential double loss of Taylor and Coloccini is a major blow after United's impressive start to the season.
'They are very important players for us,' he said.
'They have a very special partnership going and I feel for Steven Taylor, it's a bad thing what happened to him and he needs to be very strong to get back as soon as possible. This is football, we have had the same defence all season, but Perch is a good defender. I hope Colo is not out for too long.'
The one bit of good news for Pardew is that Argentinian international winger Guti�rrez will be available to play at Carrow Road after serving a one-match ban for a sending off against Chelsea.