Newcastle manager Alan Pardew praised captain Fabricio Coloccini and his defence after their 0-0 draw at Norwich on Saturday.
Coloccini reportedly wants a move back to Argentina, but still managed to put in an excellent display as Newcastle ended their run of three straight English Premier League losses.
Pardew, whose team kept a clean sheet for the first time since their 3-0 win over Wigan on December 3 last year, was delighted with the centre-back.
“He was excellent today. Of the four centre-halves on the pitch, he was the most assured,” Pardew said.
“He gave us that calmness in the heat of battle and you need that.”
Pardew said Newcastle were hopeful of keeping Coloccini until at least the end of the season, with discussions to be held with the 30-year-old next week.
The former West Ham United manager said the clean sheet was a ‘step forward’ for his side, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship team Brighton and Hove Albion a week ago.
“We need a bigger pool of players, but coming here today was always going to be difficult,” Pardew said.
“Norwich are very efficient at set-plays and crosses, but we defended really well as a team. The work we did on the back four this week was evident.
“We were a lot tighter as a team. You could say it was a bore draw but it was definitely a step forward for us.
“We have repaid a little bit of the debt we had to our fans who made the trip to Brighton.”
Norwich manager Chris Hughton, whose team ended their own run of four straight league losses, lamented their sloppiness in the attacking third.
“There was a lack of confidence in our offensive play, possibly. We had plenty of three on two situations but we couldn’t find the final ball,” he said.
“Our crosses were poor and that was very frustrating.”