STEVE HARPER is ready to push his claim to be Newcastle United No 1 this season.
Magpies manager Alan Pardew has not made his mind up on who his first-choice keeper will be when his side kick off against Arsenal in August.
But Harper has waited patiently for his chance during pre-season, and was set to play in last night’s friendly against Columbus Crew.
He was also due to play against Orlando on Satur-day, but was not risked on the plastic pitch at the Citrus Bowl due to his knee operation last term.
However, looking ahead to the season, Harper told The Journal: “Everybody is desperate in every position to get into the team for the Arsenal game.
“We have a tough start to the season, and hopefully everybody can be fit and available, and give the manager a headache.
“It was a difficult surface at Orlando that we weren’t used to. Once we saw the surface, it made sense for me to let one of the young lads get exposed to that pitch! I’ve played here before.”
Harper missed the end of last season with a knee injury, which allowed Tim Krul a run in the team, with Fraser Forster also waiting in the wings.
“My knee had been an issue for a few years, and it was just a case of playing on until we were safe, and going in and getting the operation,” Harper added.
“It gave Tim an opportunity to play the last half-a-dozen games once we had established our Premier League status.
“I feel good and strong – my shoulder and knee are fine.
“We’ve got a good medical department here, who have given me a programme to work on with my knee, and it feels better than ever.”