Fabricio Coloccini could walk into any side in the Premier League, according to Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew.
The Argentine centre-back is set to return to action at Tottenham on Sunday after missing four matches with a groin problem, a run of games that included a 2-0 victory over Chelsea last time out.
And, while admitting it would be a tough decision to leave Mapou-Yanga-Mbiwa or Mike Williamson out of his starting XI, Pardew insisted he could not overlook his fit-again captain.
“Colo’s been a brilliant player for this football club – one of the players we’ve got that could go into the top teams,” he told the Shields Gazette.
“It’s very important that he’s back. He’s in good shape. That’s a boost for us, for sure.
“It’s a tough decision. The most important thing is we pay tribute to the boys since he’s been out.
“I thought they were terrific against Man City (in the club’s 2-0 Capital One Cup defeat) and they followed that up with the Chelsea performance. They’re two top teams.
“You have to say they’ve done great.”
Pardew also revealed that defenders Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett (both hamstring) could be ready to return after the international break.
Newcastle currently sit ninth in the Premier League with 14 points from 10 games.