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The Argentina international's return against West Ham could be the key factor, says the manager, who backs the defender to steer his side away from the relegation zone

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes that captain Fabricio Coloccini's leadership will be important to the club as they bid to avoid relegation this season.

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The six-foot centre-back broke a bone in his back in February and the Magpies have struggled without him, winning just two of their eight games.

Pardew reiterated the importance of his skipper, with the 31-year-old set to return against West Ham on Saturday afternoon.

"Colo is important this week and that's no disrespect to the two centre-halves who played against Liverpool," he told the Evening Chronicle. "I think his leadership is important.

"Hopefully he comes through this week and we can get him on the pitch with the armband on."

A win for Pardew's Newcastle would leave them on 40 points, a tally that has been enough to ensure safety every season since 2003, when Saturday's opponents, the Hammers, were relegated with 42 points.

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