January signing Jonjo Shelvey is likely to captain Newcastle in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini as they attempt to dig themselves out of a hole at Stoke.
Head coach Steve McClaren has confirmed that Coloccini will miss the next two games with a calf injury picked up during the club’s 18-day break from competitive action.
Shelvey wore the armband for the Magpies’ 2-1 friendly victory over Lillestrom during their warm weather training camp at La Manga, and while McClaren declined to confirm whether he will do so again at the
Britannia Stadium, he spoke warmly of the England international’s leadership qualities.
He said: “The captain has to embody what you are trying to say, that’s one of the reasons we brought Jonjo Shelvey into this club, because he epitomises what we want to achieve going forward.
“We need someone to drive this team and lead by example both playing and vocally. It will be interesting to see after a lot of criticism about the team, interesting to see how we cope without Colo and see who steps forward.
“We’ve talked a lot about bringing in characters with Shelvey and [Andros] Townsend. He’s certainly been vocal. But it’s about everybody and we’ve lacked that especially away from home, and that’s one of the reasons we’re not winning.”
Newcastle head for the Potteries have scored just seven league goals and won twice on their travels all season, a return McClaren freely admits is simply not good enough.
He said: “Everyone is frustrated. You see fantastic individual performances one week and then the next week, it’s the polar opposite. We go from looking like we can beat the likes of Arsenal or Chelsea one week and then concede five goals the next week. We’ve got to come to terms with that and put it right.
“What gives me hope is when I see all the good things that the players do, we’re capable of putting in performances, like against Manchester United, what a comeback.
“You know this team can win games. That’s what’s really frustrating. We should be winning more games than we’re doing, and that’s been the message for the last 18 days.”
McClaren has been boosted by the return to training of a series of injured players during the break with Paul Dummett, Vurnon Anita, Siem de Jong, Papiss Cisse and Aleksandar Mitrovic all available.