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Opportunity Knocks For Harper

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

Steve Harper talks to nufc.co.uk ahead of what could be his first top flight game in 17 months as United travel to Everton on Monday

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter


Two years ago, almost to the day, opportunity came knocking for Tim Krul at the expense of injured teammate Steve Harper, as Newcastle travelled to Everton.

And at Goodison Park on Monday night it is likely to be a role reversal, with veteran Harper handed his first Premier League appearance in 17 months.

With Krul currently sidelined by an elbow injury sustained on international duty with Holland last week, Harper is expected to get the nod over Robbie Elliot for a place in between the sticks, and the 37-year-old is philosophical about his potenital inclusion.

The long-serving Magpie cast his mind back to September 2010, when a trip to the Toffees will be forever remembered for Hatem Ben Arfa's stunning maiden goal in the black and white stripes.

But that afternoon also saw Haper stretchered off with a shoulder injury following a challenge by Jermaine Beckford. In his place came Krul, the youngster excelled on his Premier League bow and has hardly looked back, going on to establish himself as United's - and the Netherlands' - number one.

"That's how football works," admitted Harper to nufc.co.uk in an exclusive interview.

"Shay Given's injury, when Marlon Harewood hurt him, really kick-started my career, and my injury at Everton kick-started Tim's. That's just what happens.

"I think I'm the only player who has been involved in every pre-season friendly and every game so far this year, so if I do get the nod I will look forward to it.

"I've played down there a couple of times - I've got to get my shoulder back as that's where it fell off last time!

"But seriously, if I do get the nod it will be a great occasion, just to be back out there. I enjoyed the game out in Greece against Atromitos, so if it's me then I will certainly enjoy it.

"I feel good. There's a great spirit among the lads.

"We have worked hard in training this week, and although we have picked up a couple of injuries in international games we have had two weeks of training to take into this game on Monday."

A veteran of many games against Everton during their time in the Premier League, Harper is well aware that the fixture two years ago provided a rare victory on Merseyside.

But he is keen to rip up the form book and help United to three important points on their travels.

"It is a tough place to go and we don't have a great record down there," said Harper.

"Everton have a habit of not starting well in the Premier League but this season they have started very well with two impressive wins.

"They have a fantastic set of football fans down there - just like ours - and they will be trying to make Goodison Park a fortress.

"But we won down there a couple of years ago though and we will be looking to do the same again."