Local lad Steve Harper, who will be in goal for Newcastle at home against Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, and is one of the leaders in the dressing room at Newcastle, insists this derby game is the most important one in his long 16 years at the club.
Steve Harper – huge derby game on Sunday
The Easington-born 33-year-old, who played for the first time at St. James’ Park against Sunderland last season, when Michael Owen was terrific in the first half, and had the game wrapped up for the Magpies by half time with two goals, has billed Sunday’s game as another relegation six-pointer.
Steve talked to nufcTV about the game on Sunday:
“Last year’s derby was massive of course, but by the time we beat them it almost guaranteed safety,”
“This time it’s different. We’re a long way from safety and we desperately need the points to kick-start some sort of run which could take us away from trouble.”
“This is without doubt the biggest derby game in my time at the club.” “I’ve played in three now and haven’t been beaten.”
“I’ve played in two draws at the Stadium of Light and one win up here when Michael got us off to a cracking start with a header after just five minutes or so.”
“It’s important to get off to a good start again because with the fans behind us they are our 12th man.”
“This is must-win, no doubt about that.”
It will be good to have local lads Steve Harper and Steven Taylor playing on Sunday, and it was pleasing to see Taylor play quite well on Wednesday night at Eastlands. You can never question these local lads devotion and commitment to the Newcastle cause, of course.
Harper may need a few games to get sharp again, but we have every confidence that Steve can and will fill the shoes of Shay Given in the coming seasons.
And of course he’ll have Dutchman Tim Krul and Hexham-born Fraser Forster both breathing down his neck for a first team opportunity.
Both are excellent 20 year old goalkeeping prospects, which is one reason Newcastle can probably allow Given to finally leave the club, however sad that may be.