Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini is set to return to Argentina in order to continue his rehabilitation process from injury.
The Argentinian centre-half has yet to recover from a groin injury that has kept him out of some key games for the Magpies.
The club have now confirmed that they have given permission for their captain to return home whilst he recovers; a move that is sure to spark fears amongst Newcastle fans that Coloccini is set for a lengthy lay-off.
Coloccini's lengthening injury woes is sure to be a blow for Newcastle, who now look short in defence following the sending off of stand-in defender Mapou Yanga Mbiwa against Liverpool.
That red card, coupled with Steven Taylor's persistent injury problems, means that manager Alan Pardew is bereft of first choice defenders as he looks to build on the promising 2-2 draw at the weekend.
When speaking to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Pardew did not comment on Coloccini's return to Argentina but did confirm that the centre-half will be out of the Tyne-Wear derby this weekend.
"Colo definitely won't be available for Sunderland," Pardew said.
"We think Steven (Taylor) is going to be okay. He was touch and go to train last week but we just held him back."
"Losing Colo is like Liverpool losing Gerrard. It's a huge blow for us. We all know that."
Cheick Tiote is likely to receive the captain's armband in place of the missing Coloccini. On the decision to hand it to the Ivorian over vice-captain Cabaye, Pardew was nothing if praising of Tiote's weekend performance.
"Cheick Tiote, by far, was our best player in my opinion. He was brilliant. I was really pleased for him. We need him at that level.
"If we hadn't had the incident at the start of the season (with Cabaye) he would have been captain."
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