Steve Harper is doing a sterling job in the Newcastle goal during Shay Given’s absence due to a groin injury.
Steve Harper – goalkeeper in excellent form for Newcastle United
But when Harper’s long-standing rival and very close friend Shay Given returns to full fitness, probably for next season, manager Keegan says there are no guarantees Shay will get straight back into the starting eleven.
Keegan told the Shields Gazette this morning:
“Some clubs probably have got a No 1 and a No 2 goalkeeper, but we’ve always had two that are very, very close.“
“Shay’s had the nod for a long time, but through circumstances. Stevie’s been very loyal, and he’s now got the opportunity.”
“He cares, don’t get me wrong. He doesn’t like not being in the team, but he knows how to handle not being in the team, and he knows how to handle being in it.”
Harper will make his 15th Premier League start of the season at Fratton Park later this afternoon, and that will equal last season’s total. Steve has been in great form and has conceded just two goals in our last four games with two clean sheets, a real rarity this season.
Harper was the only surviving player from Keegan’s first spell as manager and Kevin signed him from non-league Seaham Red Star in 1993.
When Given returns it will set up the rivalry again, which will pick up when the boys return from their summer break in July. We’ll see then if Shay has finally got over his groin problems, and who will be Newcastle’s number one next season between the sticks.