Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was today attempting to head off a fresh crisis after captain Fabricio Coloccini's continued presence on Tyneside was thrown into doubt.
Press Association Sport understands the 30-year-old Argentina international has not submitted a formal transfer request, but has indicated his desire to return to South America for personal reasons, although the club was not commenting on the matter today.
Coloccini signed a four-year contract extension in March last year as Pardew tied up one of his most influential players on a long-term deal.
However, he has struggled to reproduce his stunning form of last season this time around with Newcastle underperforming as a team, while Pardew acknowledged there had been a difference of opinion between the two as the busy Christmas programme approached.
The current issue is understood not to be football-related and while delicate negotiations are under way, the former Deportivo la Coruna player's future remains uncertain ahead of his anticipated return to the squad for tomorrow's Barclays Premier League trip to Norwich.
Rumours of Coloccini's unrest first surfaced when his father Osvaldo revealed Argentinian club San Lorenzo were keen to recruit him, but the latest development has come at a time when Newcastle least need it after last Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup third-round defeat at Brighton capped a miserable run of form.
Pardew said: "It was a difficult situation. It was a really horrible day for the players and fans and more importantly the staff, but we have to lick our wounds.
"We are much stronger this week and that is much better for us."
Despite more frustration in his search for a striker to replace the departed Demba Ba, Pardew has had some welcome good news with the arrival of French full-back Mathieu Debuchy and the return to fitness of Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye.
Pardew knows his big names will be needed to end a dismal run of just four points from 10 away league games this season.
He added: "We are getting some senior bodies back around the team at a crucial time.
"We really need to get some momentum back for our fans, who we really let down last week. It is important that we give a really good account of ourselves at Norwich and start getting points on the board.
"We have been very competitive and we just need that break to give us the win and the good feeling in the group.
"I don't think we're a million miles away from that. Certainly the team that played last week was a shadow of the one that will line up at Norwich."
Pardew believes midfielder Cabaye will be key to his side's recovery, and although the Frenchman is likely to start on the bench at Carrow Road, his influence when injury free could significantly dictate his side's fortunes for the rest of the season.
"At the start of the season we were unaware Yohan was carrying an injury and so it didn't look like he was playing his best football for us, certainly not as well as he had been playing at the end of last year," Pardew added.
"But he looks much better now. His movement and passing is better and he is going to make a big, big difference for us because so much of our play goes through him. So he will make us a more attractive team and hopefully a more productive team."
Pardew continues to be linked with new players, with Marseille striker Loic Remy remaining an ongoing target, although reports from France of a bid for Valenciennes defender Gaetan Bong are wide of the mark.
For the time being, Debuchy remains his only capture of the transfer window and he added: "Mathieu has come in and looks very accomplished. He looks like a proper senior player who knows the game.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing him in a Newcastle shirt and I think he will add some real quality to us."