ALAN Pardew has backed rejuvenated Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper to enjoy an Indian summer in the absence of Tim Krul, writes MARK DOUGLAS.
Krul is expected to miss at least a fortnight with an elbow injury but Pardew has few worries about entrusting the number one jersey to the vastly-experienced Harper (pictured left), who has come in from the cold to secure a central role in Newcastle’s battle on four fronts.
Although Pardew insists the club have not written off Rob Elliot it will be Harper in goal for the trip to Goodison Park.
It will be the 37-year-old’s first Premier League start since April 2011, however it is a reflection of Harper’s renewed zest that he is the man to turn to in the absence of Krul, having trained and worked better than at any time during Pardew’s tenure.
The Newcastle boss is also thankful for his goalkeeper’s vast experience, which may mitigate the loss of skipper Fabricio Coloccini – who will also miss a tricky looking trip to Merseyside.
Pardew said: “I think Steve was a bit unlucky last year.
“He obviously missed out on getting the number one shirt when it was up for grabs at the start of the season. I think that was a disappointment to him,
then he got injuries but he has come back with renewed vigour to play and I think that’s important.
“In training he’s been as good as I’ve seen him since I’ve been here and there’s every chance he will play against Everton.
“We still have Robbie Elliot as well, who unfortunately got injured and has only just returned. In some respects it probably comes too soon for him to be given a considerable opportunity.
“There’s a good indication that Steve will play. In terms of his character, he’s a strong character – he’s played in more European and Premier League games than I have so he’s got vast experience and we’re going to need that in this period.
“Bringing Steve in might counteract the loss of Coloccini. He’s important in the dressing room, he’s seen the situations arise and knows what to do and what not to do when you’re either winning or losing. That experience will be very important.”
Just over 12 months ago Harper was part of a three-way fight for goalkeeping duties that was eventually won by Krul, with new signing Elliot then taking over for a League Cup clash with Nottingham Forest.
Pardew rejects the idea that Harper – who eventually left for Brighton on loan to get more games – was third choice.
The Newcastle boss also revealed fears that Krul was looking rusty in the first few games of the campaign, which was the reason for Newcastle persevering with the Holland stopper for the Europa League clash with Atromitos.
“The reason Steve ended up third was because he was injured, if I’m honest,” he said. “Rob had come in and done nothing wrong. He’d trained really well and we’ve still got high hopes for Elliot so it wasn’t like a number three situation – I have to clear that up.
“With Atromitos, I just felt that Tim needed to play. We felt that he felt a little bit rusty and there was a bit of a shout that he might get the Dutch role and he wanted to prove that he was ready.”
Pardew will need all of the experience he can get for Everton, with Cheick Tiote, Danny Simpson, Coloccini and Krul all confirmed absentees. The Newcastle boss revealed that Jonas Gutierrez will take over as skipper for the next few weeks.