If there’s one position Newcastle have been strong at for the last 14 years or so, it is goalkeeper.
Fraser Forster – in fantastic form at Norwich
And that looks like continuing, even though Shay Given has left for pastures anew at Manchester City.
Not only do we have the experienced veteran Steve Harper doing very well this season, but two youngsters coming on fast are Dutch U-21 International Tim Krul and local lad Fraser Forster, currently getting rave reviews on loan at Norwich.
It seems that Steve Harper knows all about Fraser, and he told the Shields Gazette today:
“I know Fraser is out at Norwich, but there is no chance of Newcastle selling him. He is too good,”
“I cannot understand how he is not in the England Under 21 squad. I know their set-up, and Fraser is as good as there is around.”
“He is a local lad from Stocksfield, a big lad at 6ft 6in who stayed on at school and so came late into full-time football, but the progress he has made in the last three years is phenomenal.”
“I know Paul Barron, our goalkeeper coach, rates him highly and so does Norwich boss Paul Lambert.”
“Fraser still trains with me every Monday and Tuesday when Norwich don’t have a midweek game, so we keep an eye on him and keep in touch.”
Steve always had a good relationship with Shay Given, when he was perennial back-up to the Irishman, and to Steve’s credit he seems to be helping the young lads come through at St. James’ Park – maybe to his own detriment.
But Steve is still a very good goalkeeper, and he will not give up that number one slot easily, after waiting so long for the chance.
However, Steve may have to play out of his skin next season (again), to retain the number one jersey on Tyneside, with Fraser and Dutchman Tim Krul, both now knocking hard on the door.
Forster seems to be playing very well indeed at Norwich City in League One, and he has so far made 34 appearances for the East Anglia side, who are now 9 points clear at the top of their division.
By our reckoning Fraser has 16 clean sheets in those 34 games, about 50% – and strangely that’s about what Steve has – with 20 clean sheets in 41 games for Newcastle – a new club record.
Top Dutch youngster Tim Krul has also stated that his aim is to be Newcastle’s number one goalkeeper next season, so Steve can expect some big time competition, when pre-season training starts in July.
We also see Steve Harper as Newcastle’s goalkeeping coach, some time down the road, it just seems fitting somehow.