Shay Given will get a rare outing this season when he lines up against Arsenal at the Emirates tonight. Ireland international Given is getting frustrated about his lack of games since proving his fitness a couple of weeks back.
He had a couple of excellent games for Ireland during the International break so it’s not a case of Given having falling off in his form.
It’s the fact that perennial stand-in Steve Harper has come in and given almost faultless performances for Newcastle â€“ making the great save when it has been needed. Steve continued that form against West Ham on Sunday.
Shay Given – Newcastle’s experienced goalkeeper gets a rare outing tonight
Sam Allardyce says he cannot think of a reason why Harper should be dropped to make way for his long-time rival and pal.
Allardyce told the Shields Gazette this morning:
“Obviously the performance of Steve Harper leaves me in a position where I say to myself, ‘For what reason can I leave this player out?’, and there isn’t one.â€
“Steve Harper’s form has been absolutely top drawer, and when needed, he made another couple of crucial saves that were very, very good against West Ham.â€
“That leaves Shay in a very difficult position because of his past at this football club.â€ “He’s one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League, and you’ve got Steve Harper matching him.â€
“What more could a manager want than that headache?”
Given’s only other first team appearance this season was in the previous round of the Carling Cup, when he kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory for Newcastle at St. James’ Park. The 31-year-old has been getting close to keeper Jimmy Lawrence’s all-time Newcastle appearance record of 496, made between 1904 and 1922. Given has made 414 appearances for Newcastle so far and it remains to be seen what transpires in the future in our goalkeeping situation.
Maybe a slip by Harper and Sam will replace him. But Steve seems to have a lot more confidence playing under Big Sam and his form has been absolutely first rate. From a Newcastle fan’s perspective we want to keep both keepers at the club but that may not be possible if Tim Krul continues to make his mark.
As we reported this morning Tim seems to be doing extremely well on his loan stint at Falkirk, where he had an outstanding game on Saturday against Motherwell. By next season Tim could be ready to challenge for the keeper’s spot on Tyneside, so Big Sam may have a decision to make. Which one of his top two keepers will he let go?
It’s a delicately balanced situation right now â€“ and we’ll just have to see how it resolves itself – if it does. We don’t think Shay will be ready to sit on the sidelines for any length of time, and other top clubs in the Premiership will be only too pleased to take him off Newcastle’s hands.
Interestingly, one of those clubs are Newcastle’s opponents tonight, Arsenal.
What do you think. Let us know – comments welcome on this situation.