Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Missing out on Harper

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Missing out on Harper

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Steve Harper is the unluckiest goalkeeper in the country to be watching rather than playing in England's game against Macedonia on Saturday, according to club-mate Craig Moore.

The Australian has played 31 times for his country and believes it is a travesty his Newcastle United colleague does not have a single cap.

Harper has had a run in the United side recently because of the torn bowel suffered by Shay Given against West Ham United last month. The Republic of Ireland star may not play again this calendar year.

In his absence, Harper has reminded Magpies fans what a good number two he is, pulling off a couple of outstanding saves in last Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United. It backed up the widely-held view on Tyneside that only the former Seaham Red Star shot-stopper's loyalty to Newcastle has prevented him representing his country ( an opinion Moore shares.

"I think Steve's the unluckiest goalkeeper there is not to have played for England," he said. "Him and Shay are very, very similar goalkeepers. They're both fantastic and we're fortunate with Newcastle to be spoilt with two."

In 13 years at Newcastle the Easington-born 30-year-old has played almost as many games for other clubs. Loan spells at Hartlepool United, Bradford City, Gateshead, Stockport County and Huddersfield Town have supplemented the 70 largely cup appearances he has made for United. Early in his career, Harper was held in similar esteem to his close friend Given, and was selected for the 1999 FA Cup final ahead of him. Unfortunately for him, Given has developed as one of the Premiership's outstanding keepers ( and one who is rarely injured.

But as he demonstrated at Old Trafford, Harper is still a top-class keeper. "He made some outstanding saves against Manchester United," Moore noted. "But for me there were no surprises because he's been doing it day in, day out in training."

Moore, meanhwhile, has cast his own international future into doubt after showing up late for an Australia training camp. The central defender flew from Sunday's game to Sydney via Amsterdam but missed a second connecting flight to Brisbane and was late for training. …

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