WILLIAMSON: WE'LL COPE WITHOUT FAB
Mike Williamson is convinced Newcastle can achieve their dreams this season even without skipper Fabricio Coloccini.
The Magpies will head into Sunday's crucial Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool as the Argentinian centre-half continues his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered at West Brom at the weekend.
Coloccini is expected to miss the next two or three games, although the tear is not as bad as was first feared.
And despite the lack of specialist cover with Steven Taylor out with a ruptured Achilles tendon - full-back James Perch filled in at the Hawthorns - Williamson is confident his side will cope.
He told the club's official website, www.nufc.co.uk: "It's a big loss.
"Colo been huge for us this season. He's not only our captain, but also a fantastic player.
"But the second half at West Brom showed that we have enough in the squad to cope without him while he is out.
"Perchy came into the middle and he has been one of our best players in recent weeks.
"He proved again that he can step in, be it at left-back, centre-half or wherever, and do a brilliant job."
Perch has proved a key member of Alan Pardew's relatively small squad in recent weeks, although the club's decision not to bring in an extra central defender in January, when they pursued Watford's Adrian Mariappa to no avail, could yet come back to haunt them.
Williamson, Coloccini and Taylor represent Pardew's entire pool of out-and-out centre-halves, and only the former Portsmouth man is fit heading into a crucial final eight games of what has already been an excellent campaign.
It was his error at West Brom which gifted the home side their goal after the visitors had raced into a 3-0 half-time lead, although he and Perch held firm to help secure the points.
The win left the sixth-placed Magpies eight points clear of Liverpool in seventh, and Sunday's game is likely to have a significant say in how the duel between the two clubs resolves itself over the final few weeks of the season.
Victory for Newcastle, who lost 3-1 at Anfield in December, would establish a seemingly decisive gap, although Williamson knows that will be easier said than done.
He said: "Liverpool have the likes of [Luis] Suarez, Andy [Carroll], [Stewart] Downing and many others who can hurt you. They have some fantastic players.
"It will be tough but hopefully if we can apply ourselves like we did last weekend at West Brom, then it can be a good game.
"We are carrying some momentum at the moment and have got a huge chance against Liverpool.
"There is a great buzz about the place at the moment. We are a hard-working group of lads with a good mentality and, obviously off the back of two good wins, we are looking forward to the big game on Sunday."
Pardew will hope to have utility man Ryan Taylor back from a calf injury and midfielder Cheick Tiote available after missing the last two games with a hamstring problem.
Newcastle's Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea has been re-arranged for Wednesday, May 2 with a 1945 kick-off.
The fixture, which was initially due to take place at Stamford Bridge on April 14, has been moved because of the Blues' progression to the FA Cup semi-finals.
Alan Pardew's men will head for London four days after the trip to Wigan and four before Manchester City bring down the curtain on the club's home campaign at St James' Park.
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