Newcastle target Coloccini again to plug defence gap

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Newcastle United's increasingly desperate hunt for a new central defender has caused them to look again at the Argentinian international Fabricio Coloccini, a mainstay of the Deportivo La Coruña team, who would cost around £8m. The club are considering a serious bid as they run out of options for defensive cover in the new season.

Kevin Keegan may not be completely sold on the club's approach to transfers, executive director Dennis Wise runs the operation from London, but it is getting to the point where he is going to have to trust the judgement of Wise and his assistant Tony Jimenez if Newcastle are to be competitive next season. Coloccini's name has been known to Premier League scouts over the last few years, but there are doubts about his suitability for the English game.

He had an unsuccessful spell at Milan and, moving around in Spain after that, has established himself at Deportivo where he captained the team on occasions last season. He has the added advantage of being versatile and has played at right-back and as a defensive midfielder in Spain. A full Argentina international, who played at the 2006 World Cup, Coloccini, 26, is contracted for the next three years.

Not that Newcastle can afford to be too choosy at the moment. They were turned down by Anton Ferdinand earlier this month and have already dispensed with the services of Stephen Carr and David Rozehnal. They have made just two signings all summer in Jonas Gutierrez, the Real Mallorca striker, and Danny Guthrie from Liverpool. They are also interested in Blackburn's Stephen Warnock, but the list of those they have missed out on is more extensive.

The club had intended to make this summer one of intensive rebuilding with Wise, Jimenez and Jeff Vetere, the club's head of player recruitment, scouring Europe for the best, competitively-priced talent. They have not always concurred with Keegan on the type of players that the club should be trying to attract, but the urgency to bolster the squad will increase the closer they get to the start of the new season.

The Newcastle captain Michael Owen said yesterday that he had missed two end-of-season England friendlies because he contracted the mumps. "They would not let me go in case I infected any of the other England players," he said.