Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

LONG WAY FROM HOME; Harper Vow as United Face FA Cup Trek

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

LONG WAY FROM HOME; Harper Vow as United Face FA Cup Trek

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER

STEVE HARPER has sympathised with supporters after the Magpies were handed an 834-mile round trip to face Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round.

But the long-serving stopper has pledged that Toon players will still be gunning for glory in the competition.

Harper hopes to be able to train this week after suffering a back spasm in the 3-0 win over Swansea City saw him subtituted at half-time.

And he expects to be in contention for the visit of Watford on Saturday.

There were 2,361 United fans at Peterborough in September when a fresh-faced Newcastle side were dumped out of the Carling Cup on a deeply disappointing night.

Supporters will not need reminding that an instant return to the Premier League is the main priority this season, but with second-tier sides like Cardiff City and Millwall reaching the final in the last six seasons, Harper is ruling nothing out.

Reflecting on the draw, Harper said today: "It's not great for the fans.

"The FA Cup's a very special competition, but our priority this year is to get out of this division.

"We've got a lot of games between now and then so, depending on the injury situation, who knows how we'll do when we go to Plymouth? "You have to give the competition the respect it deserves - teams from the Championship have got to the final in recent years."

United's festive period in the league had been kind, with a Boxing Day trip to Sheffield Wednesday sandwiched between home games with Middlesbrough and Derby County before we roll into 2010.

And with Harper nursing a minor back injury, he says it's impossible to predict whether Chris Hughton will make wholesale changes to his side for the trip to Home Park.

He added: "We've probably got half a dozen games between now and then, and that's a long time in football. …

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