By Matt Farr
Former Newcastle forward Mick Quinn is confident that Jack Colback can fill the boots of the suspended Jonjo Shelvey.
Shelvey is set to miss the next five Newcastle games after a racially aggravated misconduct charge was proved, and Rafa Benitez must now consider his options in the midfield department.
The former Liverpool midfielder has been arguably Newcastle’s most important player this season, and his absence leaves a massive hole in the middle of the park.
But Quinn believes Colback is the perfect man for the role, praising his passing and tackling ability.
The ex-Sunderland midfielder has made just 14 appearances in all competitions this term, and has not been part of the Newcastle match squad for any of their last five fixtures.
Quinn told the Newcastle Chronicle: “I would like to see Jack Colback given the chance to step in and replace Shelvey.
“Now Colback has come in for a bit of stick over the last year or so, especially after he struggled a bit under Steve McClaren. But come on, who didn’t struggle under McClaren?
“There’s more to come from Colback. When he signed from Sunderland he was on the fringes of the England team but it’s not quite worked out for him. He’s been rotated by Rafa and he’s missed the last few games through injury. This is Jack’s big chance.”
The 27-year-old was rewarded for his hard-work during the 2013-14 season with a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Norway and Switzerland, but Colback was forced to withdraw with injury. He has not been picked since.
Newcastle are currently one point clear of promotion rivals Brighton at the top of the Championship, with 16 wins from 22 games.
Benitez’s side go up against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, where Colback could come in for the absent Shelvey.
The other alternatives at Benitez’s disposal are Mo Diame, Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote.
In other Newcastle news, this Magpies striker is on the January shortlist of these two Premier League clubs.