Defensive duo losing race to be fit for Manchester City clash

STRUGGLING ... Steven Taylor.
STRUGGLING ... Steven Taylor.

FABRICIO Coloccini and Steven Taylor are losing their battles to be fit for Newcastle United’s Capital One Cup tie against Manchester City.

The pair missed the club’s Wear-Tyne derby defeat to Sunderland with hamstring injuries.

United manager Alan Pardew – who said on the eve of Sunday’s game that Coloccini had a chance of playing at the Stadium of Light – admitted afterwards that his captain wasn’t as close to a comeback as he’d hoped.

And Pardew also revealed Taylor suffered a minor setback last week, as reported by the Gazette on Friday.

Coloccini, 31, and Taylor were being assessed today, but Pardew, mindful of the club’s upcoming Premier League fixtures, will be reluctant to take any risks with the two centre-halves against Man City tomorrow night.

Instead, defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, suspended for the Sunderland match after his dismissal against Liverpool, could return to Pardew’s starting XI for the fourth-round tie at St James’s Park.

“Colo, I didn’t think, was really close (to playing against Sunderland), but Steven was,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“He was training Monday and Tuesday, and got reinjured Thursday, and that was a blow to us.”

Paul Dummett, a natural left-back, partnered Mike Williamson in the heart of Pardew’s defence at the Stadium of Light, and the 22-year-old was given a baptism of fire on his full Premier League debut.

But Pardew felt Dummett – who has broken into the first-team squad this season – acquitted himself well after a difficult start which saw Steven Fletcher tower over him to score Sunderland’s opener.

“I think Paul Dummett really stood up well for a young player in those circumstances,” he said. “He can be proud of his performance.”

Newcastle haven’t reached the quarter finals of the League Cup since the 2006/07 season, when they were knocked out of the competition by eventual winners Chelsea.

Taylor, United’s longest-serving player after striker Shola Ameobi, is depserate for a run in a domestic cup competition.

Speaking earlier this season, the 27-year-old said: “Obviously we aren’t in Europe this year so we have to make sure we do well in the League Cup and the FA Cup.

“That’s what we’re trying to do. We have to take the cups by the scruff of the neck and do well in them.

“We talked about it at the start of the season. We want to do well in the cups. We look at Swansea and Bradford doing well. We’d like to follow that.

“With the players we’ve got, there should be no reason why we can’t.

“We have to play well as a team, and hopefully get the stroke of luck we need too.”

Meanwhile, turnstiles will be open for the game (7.45pm kick-off).

Turnstiles numbered 52, 52, 54 and 55 in the Gallowgate East Corner and 67, 68, 69 and 70 in the Gallowgate West Corner will be open for cash admissions.

Tickets are £20 for adults and £5 for concessions.