Newcastle United Captain Fabricio Coloccini is closing in on a return to the first-team.

The Argentine defender made his last appearance for the Magpies in the New Year’s Day defeat at West Bromwich Albion and has missed the seven games since with a knee injury.

But now, the 31-year-old is back in training and could be involved in Newcastle’s clash with Aston Villa on Sunday.

In Coloccini’s absence, the Geordies have won just one of their seven games, losing their last three by wide margins.

As a result, the pressure is building on Alan Pardew to pick his team back up to the kind of form that seen them pushing for the top six before Christmas.

There have been reports that owner Mike Ashley is losing patience with his boss and a defeat against Villa this Sunday would see him cut his losses and hand Pardew his p45.

However, the Club has strenuously denied this and has since issued a ban to the newspaper that printed the rumour, the Sunday Express, to reinforce their strong stance on the rumours.