Chris Hughton is delighted with the performances of Newcastle’s new number one goalkeeper, Steve Harper, who has started his new career at Newcastle in fine style.
Steve Harper – looking better in every game
Hughton said today:
“When you lose a keeper of that caliber what you need is an experienced goalkeeper. Now he hasn’t played the number of games that Shay has played but certainly he’s an older head that has been around a while and he’s played an absolutely crucial part for us,”
“The period he came in last season, he didn’t let anyone down. I knew about him from before I came but when I got here he was the keeper who was playing and it was then that I realised what a quality goalkeeper he was.”
“He’s done the same since he came back into the team.”
David James will be 39 years old in August and close to 5 years older than Steve, so Harper is certainly not too old for the England squad. And there’s been too many of the younger England goalkeepers who have failed to come through when given their chance.
So it’s possible that Steve could make it into the squad, but Steve will know he will just have to keep his head down and play well for Newcastle. Steve, like Shay Given before him, is a top class professional, and one of the real leaders at the club.
But Harper has now played over 100 times for Newcastle United, and Chris Hughton believes that might actually prolong his Premier League career at the club:
“What has probably held him back is that he’s not had a sustained run of games,” “But if you’re looking at the England quality goalkeepers in the country – he’s up there with them.”
“How many are there actually playing on a regular basis? He doesn’t fall short from them – all he needs now is a long run in the side.”
“He’s still young enough – he’s got a long period of games in front of him and perhaps the fact that he’s not played that many games will help him to go on even longer.”
With Steve Harper, because he hasn’t played too much over his 16 years at the club was always prone to taking a bit of time to get into the swing of things when he replaced Shay Given.
This time around, he has played solidly, in some vital games for Newcastle, and we expect Steve to get even better, as he did at the end of last season, when he was one of Newcastle best players in the run-in for Kevin Keegan.
If he can do that he should be rightly considered for the England squad for next summer in South Africa, and it would be great for both Steve and Newcastle, if he can make that squad.