Given Rushed Back Too Quickly – Harper Plays Saturday

It seems like Kevin Keegan pushed Shay Given back on Saturday too quickly and of course Shay paid for that with yet another groin injury.


Shay Given – returned too soon last Saturday

Here’s what Kevin Keegan told the Newcastle Journal this morning:

“I take full responsibility for that,” “Shay only had two weeks to get over a groin injury. He passed every fitness test, but I knew there was a slight risk playing him. He wanted to play and made every effort to get fit.”

“But at half time, he said (his groin) is a little bit achy. Rather than be stupid and say, ‘You said you’re fit so you can carry on playing’, I took him off. And I thought Steve Harper did well in the second half and made a couple of great saves.”

That’s a surprising statement by Kevin because he has often said he thinks Newcastle have the best two goalkeepers in the Premier league in Given and Harper. So why did he want to rush Shay back?

It does seem a little strange but Shay now has a weakness in that his groin keeps giving way. He went on some strengthening exercises in the summer but it’s obvious it is still too weak. Once the season is over Shay will need to see how he can further strengthen it, maybe by first visiting a specialist.


Steve Harper – will play against Blackburn

But Steve Harper, after playing very well in the second half last Saturday and making two first class saves, will play against Blackburn Rovers.

This is another chance for Steve to stake a claim to the goalkeeper position, because Given has not played up to his usual high standards this season, and Harper has looked good every time he has played.

But we know Harper will play his heart out as usual, and he never lets the team down. It’s getting to be a critical game this Saturday against an in-form Blackburn side, who took Bolton apart 4-1 last Sunday at Ewood Park.

A win would relieve the worries of many supporters who see the team getting slowly drawn into a relegation battle, with just 3 points from our last 10 league games.    🙁

Comments welcome.

24 comments so far

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:38 AM

    Comment #1


  • Graham

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #2

    Agree Tom_Toon – Harper commands his area far better than Shay – Which is vital given the state of our defence.

    Shay has never been the same since he got that bad injury last season – he’s also seemed to lose the ability to kick the ball in a straight line too – something that troubled him early in his NUFC career i seem to remember

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #3

    The telling line in that is: “He wanted to play & made every effort to get fit”…So, the responsibility must go back to Shay, i’m afraid!..

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:43 AM

    Comment #4

    Yea, ‘Given the state of our defense…’
    & yea, y’right Graham, he was a bit pap at kicking in a straight line & hoofing it up the field to the other team instead of playing it out from the back…especially under gullit!..

  • Kash2

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:44 AM

    Comment #5

    We got whooped, but i’ve got 5 important questions about Saturday:
    1) Why do we insist on playing CZ at LB when he has been the cause of a fair few goals because of his lack of defensive positioning?
    2)Why don’t we play Enrique?
    3) Why does Alan Smith continue to get the nod up front when he just isn’t a threat?
    4) Why ooh why, does Barton get the nod ahead of any player in the squad?
    5) And why does Barton seem to punt the ball into space and then shout at people to run after it?

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    Comment #6

    Kash2…It beats the hell outta me x5…

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:52 AM

    Comment #7

    Ed, didn’t hackburn take boltoff apart with 2 pens & a 90th minute goal, hardly sounds like taken apart?..

  • CcB

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    Comment #8

    Can anyone tell me if Butt is suspended for the rovers game? If so I’m getting a bit more optimistic…

    Also, playing Harper can only make the team stronger as set-pieces have been a problem for ages imo.

  • Kash2

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:57 AM

    Comment #9

    Blackburn have players who can pick there way through our team! I fear a loss unless Smith and Barton, maybe also Duff and FAye are replaced by youngsters who will fight and freshen up the team. I’d like to see Edgar partner Taylor at the back, I’d like to see Enrique at LB with CZ at LM if Emre is fit or CM alongside Butt. And Carrol deserves a spot up top with Owen/Martins!!!!!

  • Graham

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #10

    Kash2 – answers to your questions

    1. dont know – cant understand this decision

    2. dont know – cant understand this decision

    3. dont know – cant understand this decision

    4. dont know – cant understand this decision

    5. dont know – cant understand this decision

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #11

    Taylor had a absolute mare on sat, but it’s a tough decision wheather to leave him out or play him?..But Edgar may be worth a punt, & i’d still play Faye…Please play Enrique!..& Zog & Emre in midfield!..

  • Kash2

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #12

    I’m getting grief from Spurs fans here at work because they’ve just won a cup and are tipped to break into the top 4. How the FCUK are they gonna get into top 4, they’re only 4 points above us!!!!
    Even a Sheffield Utd fan is having a pop, and they’re in the championship!
    Football fans are proper fickle, especially our fans. KK inherited a rubbish squad which had no belief at all. BSA squandered lots of points in an easy run in, because of this KK is suffering as we’re being hammered by the top teams. KK’s hands are tied in playing experienced players, as he doesn’t want to harm the youngsters belief/confidence in there own ability by throwing them in too early and then getting hammered.

    But the current team is piss POOR. Smith has to drop down to bench and Barton doesn’t deserve a squad place. Emre is needed fully fit and CZ has to play LM. We need to Enrique to sort out whatever the problem is and get playing at LB. I fear our CB pairing aren’t working, maybe one has to drop out and give Edgar a game!

  • hanzemre

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM

    Comment #13

    yes for Harper. Now we must rallying for Enrique/Edgar to play in LB not Zogbia in there. Hope Butt & Smith are suspended so KK would play others.

  • playzoginthemiddle

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #14

    Back to the mantra. Play Zog in the middle with Barton/Geremi. He can pass, tackle and shoot. Keep Emre on the bench or play him wide left instesd of Duff. Can’t play Emre in the middle as for all his skill he’s too much of a passenger, too often. And play Enrique left back – that is what he is FFS.

  • Lawman

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:32 PM

    Comment #15

    Given is no longer our Rolls Royce keeper. These injuries would never happen to him a few years ago and definitely not this frequently. Harper should be given a chance now and deservedly so.

    As for the current situation of NUFC? hmmm…..

    Probly cheaper for MA to simply buy a good solid emerging club like A.Villa and renaming it NUFC instead of going thru the hassle of buying and selling players to change the current NUFC squad. Very depressing.

  • HonoraryGeordie

    Feb 26, 2008 at 12:58 PM

    Comment #16

    Kash2, you normally make some valid points, but suggesting dropping Faye and leaving Licky manure Butt in the centre…you’re crazy!! Centre mid is where we have lost every game this season, Butt has lost the ability to pass and is too slow to get back into position after his headless escapades, and zog, barton, emre, smith are all too slow or too short or just not good enough! This makes our attack look blunt, and our defence out of their depth, yet Butt still gets in the team! Faye isn’t a great CB, his postioning lets him down, but his shear athleticism and height and strength mean that in DM he is perfect. We then would have a basis to play a Barton or an Emre, because their shackles (Nicky Butt’s inabilities) would be removed. The team could gain some confidence in a defence that wasn’t gonna be bullied, and our attack could start to flow from the back!
    Nicky Butt is the root of all evil!


    Feb 26, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    Comment #17

    why bother take a risk, should have started harper. he deserves so much

  • Obafan

    Feb 26, 2008 at 2:57 PM

    Comment #18

    1. Taylor should be on the bench after another very bad performance.
    2. Cacapa and Faye should play in the center till the end of the current season (experience!!!)
    3. Butt needs to be let out of the starting lineup.
    4. Smith n,eeds to be let out of the squad (not even on the bench). He is a nobody on the pitch. Every time he plays (every week if he is not suspended) we play with 10. and those 10 include Butt, Taylor, Barton. So no wonder that we get beaten by that many goals.
    5. Barton should get the sack. Clause pay to break his contract: 50 bottles of whisky.
    6. N’Zogbia is getting lots of critics as LB; but still every week he plays that position. Again something I don’t understand.
    7. KK needs to act like a honnest coach who looks at the players level and not their names.

    So the ideal team IMO would be;
    Beye – Faye – Cacapa – Enrique
    Milner – Geremi – Emre – Duff
    Owen – Martins

    SUBS: Forster – Taylor – Butt – Viduka – N’Zogbia

    I leave Zog out cause he really is not interested anymore; he just plays for himself and does not pass the ball enough.

  • Geordie Joe

    Feb 26, 2008 at 4:38 PM

    Comment #19

    Just a suggestion but why not give forster a chance instead of harper. Harper’s kicking is just as bad as shays in my opinion.

  • Macca

    Feb 26, 2008 at 5:29 PM

    Comment #20

    It now looks like Given needs surgery on it, it could put him out till the end of the season..that’s depressing.

    Geordie Joe..I agree, I think we should give Forster a go. He’s better then Harper. Harper’s kick isn’t great either, at least Shay has an excuse. Forster is very good, well he could be. Giving youth a chance. It can’t hurt.

  • Macca

    Feb 26, 2008 at 7:24 PM

    Comment #21

    I keep getting an earful of how disloyal we are from my friends. How disgraceful it is that some of ye are criticizing Given, and in fairness they’ve seen most of the matches this season and how ridiculously disloyal we are to most of our players.
    Ah well. I’d argue but sadly there’s a slight truth in there. I disagreed with them, obviously but I can’t remember a single player anyone has stuck by. Meh, that’s football.

  • jj

    Feb 26, 2008 at 10:33 PM

    Comment #22

    Macca harper is much better than both u must be thick not to see it and i like given but he has lost it i wanted harps in years ago and foster on the bench harps need it here since 1993 and only 100 apperances

  • Macca

    Feb 26, 2008 at 11:05 PM

    Comment #23

    No I think we should give youth a chance, Harper it’s all down to his form, and form only. Forster is a lot like Given, he’s got class. Now if you’ve got that in a YOUNG keeper then why not give him a chance. Given will probably need the surgery and will more then likely sit the rest of the season out. Which is a pity because we need him. Forster should start at least one or two games anyway.

  • rob

    Feb 27, 2008 at 3:09 PM

    Comment #24

    Macca f***k off to sunderland


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