Perch to answer Toon SOS

Versatile defender has also played in midfield this season

James Perch: the defender believes he can make up for the loss of skipper Fabricio Coloccini for Newcastle

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James Perch insist he can fill the massive boots of Fabricio Coloccini in the heart of Newcastle United's defence.

The former Nottingham Forest full-back was forced to play as a centre-half after the Magpies skipper was forced off the pitch with a hamstring injury in their 3-1 win over West Brom on Sunday.

Club doctors are waiting for scan results on the 30-year-old's thigh before determining when he can return to the first team.

And although Perch admits his absence is a big blow as the competition for the European spots heats up the 26-year-old is ready to answer the club's defensive SOS.

Massive blow

"It's a massive blow for us that Colo is injured," Perch told reporters. "He's our captain and one of our best players.

"I had to go and fill in at centre-half, and I really enjoyed it. He's massive for us - he has been for a number of years now.

"I think everyone at the club was delighted when he signed a new contract.

"When he's injured, though, we all know what a big miss he is. But with the quality, togetherness and team morale in the squad, we should be able to cope if he isn't fit."

The result against West Brom put the club level on 50 points with Chelsea and just five behind Tottenham in the last Champions League place.

And with the end of the season fast approaching Perch is delighted with the way the team have entered the run-in.

"It was a massive win," he added. "It's a huge 10 games for us if we're going to achieve what we want to achieve, and we've started off with two wins.

"This one was the better one of the two because it's away from home."