James Perch has hailed the character and quality of Fabricio Coloccini after the Argentinian defender's display in Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby.
Coloccini gave a real captain's performance despite carrying an injury, helping 10-man Newcastle to repel Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. He went off with 11 minutes left, seven minutes before Demba Ba's own goal denied United what would have been an impressive victory.
"Collo was unbelievable," said Perch, who came on to play in defensive midfield after Cheikh Tioté's first-half dismissal. "He's been out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, that was his first game back, and he was absolutely superb. That shows the character of the man. He is like that every week, to be fair."
He went on to praise the example set by the Newcastle captain, now in his fifth season at St James' Park. "To be fair, he is one of the hardest workers in training and is always out there on the training pitch really early," Perch said. "The guy is a great role model for us all because he does the right things all the time.
"He could hardly walk when he was subbed. He had a problem with his calf and was struggling a bit. For me, it's his composure that makes him a top-class player."
With Tioté banned for the games against West Bromwich, Liverpool and West Ham, Perch may have to play in midfield more often. "I don't mind playing the defensive midfield role at all," he said. "That's perfectly fine with me. I will play wherever the gaffer wants me to play, although he has a few who can play in there."