Jonas Gutierrez hopeful Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini will return for Sunderland showdown


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The Independent Football

Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez is hoping the impending return of skipper Fabricio Coloccini will shore up Newcastle's defence ahead of their derby showdown with Sunderland.

A Magpies rearguard shorn of the services of both Coloccini and Steven Taylor capitulated in depressing fashion yesterday to allow Manchester United to race into a 2-0 lead on Tyneside which they never looked like surrendering.

United eventually ran out 3-0 winners on a day when the depth of Alan Pardew's squad once again came into question.

However, the manager will hope to have both the Argentinian and Taylor back at his disposal for the short, but eagerly-anticipated trip to the Stadium of Light after the break for international matches, and Gutierrez is convinced that the return of his compatriot in particular will provide a significant boost.

He said: "He [Coloccini] is really important for us. They players who have been playing in that position have been really great, James Perch and Mike Williamson.

"They have done fantastically well during the time that Colo was injured. But always it is important to have the captain back.

"He is really important for the team and for the squad. We need players for the next few weeks, which are going to be tough, so it's really important to have those players back."

Newcastle won 1-0 at Sunderland last year courtesy of Ryan Taylor's free-kick, and that result provided the platform for their surge into fifth place in the Barclays Premier League table by the end of their campaign.

This time around, they are in need of fresh impetus after a stuttering opening to the campaign which has left them in 10th with just nine points from their first seven games.

They had high hopes of serving up a repeat of their victory over United last season despite their defensive frailties, but were left facing an uphill task as they surrendered tamely from a set-piece twice inside the opening 16 minutes to hand the visitors a commanding lead.

Gutierrez knows the same cannot be allowed to happen on Wearside if they are to get the better of their arch-rivals once again.

He said: "We have got to be focused for the whole 90 minutes. That's football, this is the Premier League.

"You have to be focused and don't do anything without concentration because that happens.

"If we concede from set-plays or in a silly situation, then it's difficult to come back because all the Premier League teams have really good players, they are really good sides, so we have to be focused."

If United's early advantage was handed to them on a plate, the identity of the men who secured it was something of a surprise.

Neither Jonny Evans nor Patrice Evra have been regular visitors to the scoresheet in recent seasons, but the Northern Ireland international needed no second invitation to dispatch Robin van Persie's eighth-minute corner after being left unmarked, and the diminutive Frenchman was equally unhindered as he met Rooney's set-piece eight minutes later.

Newcastle came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit five minutes after half-time when Demba Ba's header came back off the crossbar and Papiss Cisse saw his follow-up scooped on to the post by keeper David de Gea amid a debate over whether or not it had crossed the line first.

Ultimately, it did not really matter when Tom Cleverley curled a 71st-minute effort across keeper Steve Harper into the top corner, later claiming it was intentional, although fighting a losing battle to persuade many, including his own manager, that it had been.

Gutierrez said: "After the opportunity where Papiss hit the post after Demba hit the crossbar, I thought it was going to be more difficult because if we didn't score there, it wasn't going to be our day.

"But we kept trying to do it, to come back and to score, but it was hard. They are a really good team and it wasn't our afternoon."