Tag Archives: harper

Kevin Nolan: How I rescued Andy Carroll

Nolan: How I rescued Carroll and put him on the right path

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UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 10 November 2012

Andy Carroll's chief concern is to score his first goal for West Ham but his team-mate, Kevin Nolan, remembers a time when such on-field problems were mere trivialities.

A time when, as a star in the making with Sunday's opponents Newcastle, he needed saving from himself and from the paradox that is Geordie adulation.

Old boys: Former Newcastle duo Andrew Carroll (right) and Kevin Nolan set to return with West Ham

Old boys: Former Newcastle duo Andrew Carroll (right) and Kevin Nolan set to return with West Ham

The 21-year-old home-town hero was self-destructing and it was at then Newcastle skipper Nolan's door – literally – that the problem was dumped in October 2010.

Carroll was charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend and to secure bail he needed a place of residence instead of living in a hotel awaiting a house purchase. Nolan answered the SOS.

A combination of Carroll's cooking, Nolan's guidance and the unlikeliest of calming figures – Joey Barton – got the tyro back on the right path.

While happy to laugh off his saviour status, Nolan knows only too well the deadly serious role he played in the rescue mission.

'You can write that if you want, “Nolan saves him!” ' he said. 'I just said to him, and he knew himself, that he had got to keep out of them situations.

'At Newcastle when something goes on, it gets exploded 10 times over and with Andy up there it was magnified a thousand times. It was just because it was him, he's a 6ft 5in lad who's got long hair and stands out.

'He'd been brilliant for Newcastle for 15 months, he was the local boy, everything he did was magnified. You'd have to ask Andy if I'd had an influence on it. Of course I'm going to say yes. As a group we had a committee-type of experienced pros with myself, Joey, Alan Smith, Steve Harper, all different backgrounds, voices and opinions.

Hard going: Carroll is still searching for his first West Ham goal

Hard going: Carroll is still searching for his first West Ham goal

'The togetherness of the squad and what we were all like at that time helped Andy dramatically. He bought into it massively and he excelled and he's gone on since and I think he'll just even get better and do better things.'

The recipe for turning a boy into a man was all cooked up in Nolan's kitchen.

'I said he could stay, I cleared it with the missus, of course, first,' added Nolan. 'She was down in Liverpool a lot of the time so we were like room-mates. He was a pretty good cook. Pasta with tomatoes, chicken, things like that.

'Since then he has learned so much. There is a different lad standing in that dressing room now. There is a man who can look after himself and does the right things on a daily basis.'

Carroll, 23, will need the thickest of skins to emerge unscathed from what is a fixture laced with potential animosity. West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has always felt harshly done to regarding his rapid dismissal after eight months in charge of Newcastle.

Carroll is yet to score for West Ham but his last trip back to St James' Park, with parent club Liverpool, ended with the frontman being booked for diving before storming off after being substituted.

Nolan said: 'I am hoping I'll get quite a good reception, I'm sure Andy will get the worst one. I've got a lot of good friends there and I'm looking forward to going back and saying goodbyes to people I didn't have the chance to.

'Once one goes in for Andy, hopefully on Sunday, I am sure they will come. It would be a great time to score in front of the club he has loved since he was a kid.'

Carroll's goal-shy start to life in east London is in stark contrast to Nolan, who has picked up where he left off in the Premier League by scoring four times in 10 games.

And the West Ham midfielder, 30, admits he is angered about never having secured an England cap, especially in a week which saw 31-year-old Leon Osman get a call-up.

'Obviously, when you see Leon Osman, who I'm delighted for, getting a call-up it does tell you not to give up hope but I don't know how much more I could do,' he said. 'It does hurt that I haven't got one. I think I have deserved at least a call-up and a chance to prove myself at that level whether it be at Bolton, Newcastle and even now.

'A former England manager said if he knew everything I was about before he was England manager, he definitely would have called me up, which was nice to hear. But then I sort of wanted to strangle him!'

Steve Harper told he won"t stop Robin van Persie

Harper's son tells Newcastle stopper: You can't stop Van Persie and Rooney!

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 5 October 2012

Steve Harper would have been forgiven for thinking his days of facing Manchester United had gone.

But 18 months after his last Premier League run of games – and with Tim Krul's elbow injury ruling him out for a month – the 37-year-old will be back in goal for Newcastle on Sunday and looking forward to claiming a 'keeper's hat-trick' against Van Persie, Rooney and Co.

If only his nine-year-old son James shared the stopper's confidence.

The opposition: Robin van Persie (left) and Wayne Rooney (right) are likely to partner up against Newcastle

The opposition: Robin van Persie (left) and Wayne Rooney (right) are likely to partner up against Newcastle

A bigger test: Steve Harper (left) has been told by his son, James, to expect a tough game against Manchester United

A bigger test: Steve Harper (left) has been told by his son, James, to expect a tough game against Manchester United

Harper said: 'I've played against some pretty useful strikeforces down the years but not too many as good as Rooney and Van Persie.

'In fact, James is taking great delight telling me how good the two of them are!

'Apparently, he knows more about all the strikers in Europe than I do and he's looking forward to it as much as I am, although I think he's expecting a busy old afternoon for Dad.

'Our manager certainly has options and with Demba (Ba), Papiss (Cisse) and Shola (Ameobi), someone said to me it will probably end up 6-6.

'With all this talk about top-quality strikers, how am I going to get to sleep at night

'Having Rooney and Van Persie in tandem is mouth-watering for United fans. A clean sheet against that strikeforce would really mean something. For a start, it would mean we've got something out of the game.

'I had one against United about 15 years ago when we beat them 3-0 and big Dunc (Ferguson) scored a cracker. Shearer scored as well.

'John Burridge used to say to me when I was a kid just starting out here that a clean sheet is a goalkeeper's hat-trick and I've quoted that a few times. So I'm after a hat-trick!'

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is looking for a repeat of last season's 3-0 home win over United.

Pardew said: 'I think this will be close but the first goal won't decide it – the last one will and I hope it will be ours.

'The venue and the passion from the fans plays a part – you can't ignore that. It's an easy cliche to use for a manager – they are our 12th man.'

Ready Alan Pardew is likely to call upon big guns like Demba Ba (right) again

Ready Alan Pardew is likely to call upon big guns like Demba Ba (right) again

Lethal: Van Persie bagged both United goals against FC Cluj in midweek

Lethal: Van Persie bagged both United goals against FC Cluj in midweek

Reading 2 Newcastle 2: Demba Ba"s handball levels game

Reading 2 Newcastle 2: Winless Royals left to rage at Ba's blatant handball

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UPDATED:

16:59 GMT, 29 September 2012

Demba Ba stole a controversial point for Newcastle against luckless Reading with an equaliser just six minutes from time that went in off his hand.

Reading seemed on course for their first Barclays Premier League win of the season after goals from Jimmy Kebe and Noel Hunt in the space of four second-half minutes.

Ba had equalised in between the two Reading strikes with a magnificent volley but his contribution then veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The Senegal striker went to meet Shane Ferguson's cross with his head but missed it and the ball deflected off his hand past the helpless Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

They all count: Demba Ba shrugs off his second in front of Newcastle's fans

They all count: Demba Ba shrugs off his second in front of Newcastle's fans

Make mine a double: Demba Ba hit two, making his goal tally for the season six goals from six games

Make mine a double: Demba Ba hit two, making his goal tally for the season six goals from six games

Match facts

Reading: McCarthy, Cummings, Gorkss, Mariappa, Shorey, Kebe (McCleary 70), Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak (Roberts 77), Hunt (Le Fondre 86).

Subs not used: Taylor, Pearce, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie.

Goals: Kebe 58, Hunt 62.

Newcastle: Harper, Perch, Williamson, Steven Taylor, Santon, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Bigirimana, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.

Subs not used: Elliot, Anita, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson, Tavernier.

Booked: Perch, Williamson, Gutierrez.

Goals: Ba 58, 83.

Ref: Andre Marriner.

Att: 24,097.

Premier League results, fixtures and table

Reading then threw everything they
had Newcastle in vain search of the winner but Jason Roberts was denied
by an excellent save from Steve Harper before Jobi McAnuff hit the post.

In
the end the Royals had to settle for a point, which was not quite what
their supporters had hoped for on Alan Pardew's return to the Madejski
Stadium.

The Reading
faithful have not forgotten how Pardew, having laid the foundations for
the club's current success, resigned as manager in 2003 so he could take
charge of West Ham.

Newcastle took the bold step on Thursday of handing Pardew a contract which runs until 2020.

And
each time Reading took the lead, the home support took great delight in
warning Newcastle fans: 'Eight years for Pardew You're having a
laugh'.

Both Reading
goals were set up by club captain McAnuff, who returned to the side
after missing the Capital One Cup victory over QPR.

Thunderbolt: Demba Ba unleashes an unstoppable drive to make it one apiece

Thunderbolt: Demba Ba unleashes an unstoppable drive to make it one apiece

Thunderbolt: Demba Ba unleashes an unstoppable drive to make it one apiece

Pardew,
whose touchline ban expired, gave a first league start to Gael
Bigirimana alongside Cheik Tiote in the centre of midfield, with Vurnon
Anita dropped to the bench.

Bigirimana
immediately looked at home in the centre of midfield, dovetailing
nicely with Tiote as Newcastle controlled the middle of the park.

But
they could not create anything from that platform with Hatem Ben Arfa a
passenger for most of the game while Ba was erratic and Papiss Cisse
anonymous.

Reading grew
into the game and had the best chance of the first half when Pavel
Pogrebnyak's header, after a patient build-up, was palmed over by Steve
Harper.

But otherwise there was little to get the fans of either side excited.

Jumping for joy: Jimmy Kebe (right) opened the scoring for Reading

Jumping for joy: Jimmy Kebe (right) opened the scoring for Reading

It
took 24 minutes for the first shot on goal, which fell to the left-back
Nicky Shorey and his volley went out for a throw-in, which pretty much
summed up the quality of football on show.

Pogrebnyak
then found himself a yard of space in the Newcastle box but the ball
bounced awkwardly and he shinned it over the bar into the crowd.

Reading
worked the ball wide for McAnuff, who curled an inviting cross in for
Pogrebnyak to meet above Taylor at the far post but Harper launched
himself well to tip his header over the bar.

James
Perch was booked for a foul on McAnuff but then provided vital
intervention as Pogrebnyak was readying to shoot, after chesting the
ball down in the box.

Aerial supremacy: reading keeper Alex McCarthy claims the ball under pressure from Mike Williamsobn

Aerial supremacy: reading keeper Alex McCarthy claims the ball under pressure from Mike Williamsobn

Tread carefully: Ba skips past McCarthy in the box

Tread carefully: Ba skips past McCarthy in the box

Pogrebnyak
continued to cause problems after the restart, getting the better of
Taylor to break into the box but his control was poor and Michael
Williamson cleared.

Cisse's low shot was blocked by Kaspars Gorkss – and suddenly the game awoke from its slumbers with three goals in four minutes.

Kebe
put Reading ahead. The Mali striker was played in by McAnuff and ran at
Perch, who got himself in a tangle and Kebe scuffed a low shot inside
the near post.

Newcastle
hit back within seconds and it was no surprise that Tiote was the
creator, clipping the ball towards Ba who met it with spectacular volley
on the run.

Skipping away: Jobi McAnuff hurdles Gael Bigirimana

Skipping away: Jobi McAnuff hurdles Gael Bigirimana

With
barely a chance to draw breath, McAnuff then worked his way to the
byline and whipped in a cross which Hunt met with a precise, glancing
header to beat Harper at his far post.

The
chants aimed at Pardew resumed – but they were quietened just six
minutes from time in controversial fashion when Ba stooped to meet
Ferguson's cross but handled it into the net.

Reading
upped the ante and Roberts, on as substitute, forced another top save
from Harper with a strike from distance and McAnuff saw a shot rebound
back off the post.

Newcastle keeper Steve Harper praises Chris Hughton for job he did at the club

Hughton deserves praise for where Newcastle are today, says Toon keeper Harper

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UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 22 September 2012

Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper has hailed former boss Chris Hughton for the part he played in rekindling the club's fortunes.

Hughton stepped into one of the most challenging jobs in football in the wake of the Magpies' relegation from the Barclays Premier League and presided over a mass exodus of big-name stars.

But the unassuming Irishman forged an enviable team spirit which enabled them to bounce back into the top flight at the first attempt.

Full of praise: Steve Harper hailed the job Chris Hughton did while in charge of Newcastle

Full of praise: Steve Harper hailed the job Chris Hughton did while in charge of Newcastle

He will return to Tyneside on Sunday for the first time since his untimely departure in December 2010, this time as manager of Norwich, and will do so three days after Newcastle launched their Europa League campaign with a 0-0 draw against Maritimo in Madeira.

That is testament to the work his successor Alan Pardew has done during the intervening period, but also to the foundation laid by Hughton and the assistant manager with whom he has been reunited at Carrow Road, Colin Calderwood.

Harper said: 'It was obviously a difficult time at the club, but Chris just gave everybody a clean slate and basically set out what we needed to do.

Mission accomplished: Hughton took Newcastle back into the Premier League at the first time of asking

Mission accomplished: Hughton took Newcastle back into the Premier League at the first time of asking

'He and Colin gave us a strategy, broke down that Championship season into little segments, set us targets and we achieved virtually every one of them.

'It can be a long season in the Championship, but Colin had experience of it and the pair of them and Paul Barron worked well together, really gelled the team and forged a fantastic team spirit which got us through a very tough season.'

Hughton was surprisingly shown the door at Newcastle with the club hierarchy unconvinced that he could take the club to the next level.

What is not in any doubt, however, is that Pardew has indeed taken the Magpies forward, as last season's fifth-place finish, which earned their return to European action, demonstrated.

Harper said: 'The manager [Pardew] has given credit to Chris in the past, and rightly so.

'But since the gaffer has come in he recognised the ethos and beliefs of everyone at Newcastle United, which was probably summed up on Monday night by making a very positive substitution at 1-0 down at Everton.

'That's what the fans want to see Newcastle United teams doing. The manager recognises that and that's why they really appreciate the fantastic job he is doing.'

In the circumstances, Pardew's arrival at the club was hardly greeted with unbounded joy, but he has successfully won over his doubters since.

Nevertheless, Hughton is sure to receive a warm ovation from the locals tomorrow, although their respect and appreciation will last only so long.

Harper said: “He did a fantastic job here and I am sure the fans will reflect that by giving him a fantastic ovation on Sunday up until kick-off, and then as soon as kick-off comes they will be desperate for three points.

'I am sure the fans will show their appreciation for Chris before and after the game. He might even get a song during the game if we are 3-0 or 4-0 up!

'But it will be a very tough game. They have defensively been very solid recently.

'It will be great to see Chris and Colin back at the club. It will be great to see them, but hopefully we will send them home with three points for Newcastle on the board.'

Pardew will restore his big guns to the starting line-up after making seven changes for Thursday night's game in Madeira, and that is likely to mean returns for the likes of Harper, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba.

Midfielder Cheick Tiote could also return to the squad after recovering from the calf problem he picked up on the opening day of the season, although Pardew is unlikely to risk him unless it is absolutely necessary.

Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse miss Newcastle trip to Maritimo

Pardew calls in teenager Campbell as Cisse and Ba miss trip to Portugal

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UPDATED:

10:11 GMT, 19 September 2012

Alan Pardew will be without his two leading strikers against Maritimo after Newcastle travelled to Portugal without Senegal duo Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

Pardew has been forced to call-up 17-year-old homegrown forward Adam Campbell for the club's opening Europa League clash after Cisse was forced to withdraw from the squad with illness.

Cisse's strike-partner Demba Ba was also missing from the party which flew out from Tyneside on Wednesday morning a day after his agent suggested he does not understand his current role at the club.

Missing: Demba Ba

Illness: Papiss Cisse

Missing: Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse (R) have not travelled to Portugal

However, midfielder Sammy Ameobi was on the plane after confirming his return to fitness by playing in the Under-21s' 2-2 derby draw with Sunderland on Tuesday night.

Steve Harper looks set to continue in goal with Dutch keeper Tim Krul also missing through injury.

Everton v Newcastle live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Everton v Newcastle – as it happens from Goodison Park

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UPDATED:

19:07 GMT, 17 September 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Everton host Newcastle at Goodison Park to round off the weekend's action. The Toffees will hope to build on a strong start to the season and seal three points to help them climb into third, while Alan Pardew will hope to record the Toon's first victory since the opening day. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Everton 0-0 Newcastle (8pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka,
Distin, Baines, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas, Jelavic.
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Naismith, Gueye, Coleman, Anichebe, Duffy.

Newcastle:
Harper, Perch, Steven Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Cabaye, Anita,
Gutierrez, Marveaux, Cisse, Ben Arfa.
Subs: Elliot, Gosling, Ba,
Bigirimana, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Tavernier.

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Click here for the live Premier League table

4min: Jelavic limps off for a moment but is back on again a couple of minutes later. He is till limping but I think he will run that off.

2min: And already Everton have the ball in the net but Newcastle breath a sigh of relief as it is ruled offside.

Marouane Fellaini's attempted shot from a cross is parried away by Steve Harper but only to Nikica Jelavic who taps home shortly before the flag is raised.

It's the correct call but there is a delay in play as the Croatian is down in pain having collided with the post.

Kick-off: The game gets underway…

20.00: Applause from everyone inside the ground as the names of those that lost their lives are displayed on the big screen under a message saying 'Merseyside United.'

19.56: Touching scenes as the players make their way out. Two mascots lead the way holding hands, one wearing a Liverpool kit, the other an Everton kit with the numbers nine and six on their backs in reference to the Hillsborough disaster.

19.53: We've already touched on where Everton could end up this evening but Newcastle could throw themselves in at the business end of the table too.

A win for the Toon could move them up to sixth.

19.50: This of course is a rematch from the final day of last season when Newcastle were chasing a top four spot.

Going down 3-1 effectively ended their chances, but wins for Tottenham and Arsenal made their hopes of reaching the Champions League redundant regardless.

19.45: From InfostradaLive:

Steve Harper replaces Tim Krul in goal for Newcastle. He will make his first PL appearance in 17 months, since Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa in April 2011. He has failed to keep a clean sheet in his last five PL matches, since a 2-0 victory at Birmingham City in Feb 2011.

19.40: Everton boss David Moyes spoke to Sky Sports before the game:

'Last season we couldn't win in the early part of the campaign, including at Goodison.

'Hopefully Mirallas will get us goals and add pace, Naismith has played well but now is the time to introduce him.

'Newcastle have got a threat and were against everyone all of last season. Cisse, Ben Arfa and Cabaye are good players so it will be a tough game.'

19.35: Everton's 6million summer signing Kevin Mirallas is given his first Barclays Premier League start for the visit of Newcastle.

The Belgium international and right-back Tony Hibbert are the two changes from the side which lost at West Brom last time out, with the injured Darron Gibson absent and Steven Naismith drops to the bench.

Newcastle make five changes from their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa prior to the international break, the most notable being Demba Ba among the substitutes with centre-back Fabricio Coloccini and goalkeeper Tim Krul injured.

Tribute: A banner dedicated to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough was on show inside of Goodison Park

Tribute: A banner dedicated to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough was on show outside of Goodison Park

Tribute: A banner dedicated to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough was on show outside of Goodison Park

19.30: Full line-ups from Goodison Park:

Everton v Newcastle
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas, Jelavic. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Naismith, Gueye, Coleman, Anichebe, Duffy.

Newcastle: Harper, Perch, Steven Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Cabaye, Anita, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Cisse, Ben Arfa. Subs: Elliot, Gosling, Ba, Bigirimana, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Tavernier.

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

19.25: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew spoke to Sky Sports pre-match:

'Demba Ba is a victim of injuries to our midfield, but don't be surprised if he comes off the bench to get the winner.

'Without Cheick Tiote we need an extra body in the midfield as Everton are formidable at home.

'It's a big test with the Europa League pressures, we knew we was going to get injuries so people will have to step up.'

19.20: One man who has started to find his form for Newcastle is full-back, Davide Santon.

The former Inter Milan has started the season brightly following an inconsistent campaign last term and he has told fans his best is yet to come.

19.15: So no Demba Ba for Newcastle. Papiss Cisse is favoured in attack as Alan Pardew opts for a lone striker.

The Newcastle boss isn't aiming to keep it tight though judging by the wide players in his line-up.

19.10: Newcastle starting XI:

Harper, Perch, Williamson, Stuart Taylor, Santon, Anita, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Cisse, Ben Arfa.

19.05: Everton starting XI:

Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Mirallas, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic.

19.00: Good evening football fans, could I just take your attention away from tomorrow night's Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City for a moment (or an evening) as we have a rather intriguing Premier League fixture tonight.

Everton have made an unusually positive start to the season and a win today could see them move up into third, possibly second if they go goal crazy against Newcastle. Should be a cracker and the team news on the way.

Winning team: Victory for Everton will see them go level with second place Manchester United on nine points

Winning team: Victory for Everton will see them go level with second place Manchester United on nine points

Newcastle can launch season at Everton, says Alan Pardew

Pardew backs injury-hit Toon to get season up and running at Everton

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UPDATED:

12:52 GMT, 15 September 2012

Alan Pardew is convinced there is more to come from his Newcastle side as they attempt to rediscover their best form.

The Magpies have endured a less than spectacular start to the new campaign in comparison with their heroics last season, and head for Everton on Monday evening with some fans bemoaning their failure to significantly strengthen the first-team squad with Europa League football exerting further pressure on their resources.

However, despite an injury crisis which seems certain to rob him of four of his strongest starting XI at Goodison Park, Pardew is confident that they will once again scale the heights which propelled them into the upper reaches of the Barclays Premier League last time around.

Let's get started: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is confident his side can get a good result at Everton

Let's get started: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is confident his side can get a good result at Everton

He said: 'Yes, of course I think our team can play better – and I think we will.

'I think our results have been solid. The performances have not been as good as I would have liked at this stage.

'But all the teams at the start of the season, you are feeling your way and hopefully in the coming weeks, we have got some games where I think we can pick up points, and we have to start on Monday night.'

Newcastle lost 3-1 at Everton on the final day of last season as their feint hopes of Champions League qualification were comprehensively ended.

But they will arrive on Monday without several key men and in particular, with three members of Pardew's first-choice back five missing.

Back-up: Veteran keeper Steve Harper is set to deputise for injured No 1 Tim Krul

Back-up: Veteran keeper Steve Harper is set to deputise for injured No 1 Tim Krul

Keeper Tim Krul is expected to miss up to three games having damaged and elbow injury on international duty with Holland, while skipper Fabricio Coloccini returned from Argentina with a hamstring problem to join Danny Simpson, who has a similar injury, on the sidelines.

In addition, midfielder Cheick Tiote's calf problem, which has kept him out since the opening day of the season, shows little sign of healing any time soon.

Steve Harper and the fit-again Rob Elliot will fight it out for Krul's place with Pardew admitting the former has come to terms with losing his number one spot to the Dutchman last season and is raring to go once again.

He said: 'Harps last year suffered from injury and I think the disappointment, actually, of not starting as number one.

'I think he is over that now and he has got his game back together, and he looks a much better presence in the goal this year.

'Robbie has been injured and has only just come back. Luckily for us, Robbie is available, so we have got two good goalkeepers.'

Stepping up: Steven Taylor will lad the Magpies defence

Stepping up: Steven Taylor will lad the Magpies defence

Pardew has a decision to make too at the back, where James Perch is available after recovering from a neck injury.

Midfielder Vurnon Anita filled in at right-back after Simpson limped off during the first half of the Magpies' 1-1 draw with Aston Villa last time out, and could be asked to start there if Perch joins Steven Taylor in the middle.

However, the manager could also turn to Mike Williamson to partner Taylor and ask Perch to play at full-back.

Former England Under-21 skipper Taylor has returned to top form after injury, and Coloccini's absence means he is an increasingly important figure.

Pardew said: 'Yes, he is, and Williamson as well because Williamson has started the season strongly and obviously ended last season strongly.

'He is in good shape, so I have got no worries about him filling in.

'But Steven's form has been good considering he has been out such a while, and I think we have got two really good players there.'

Steve Harper set for Birmingham as Jack Butland nears exit

Former Toon goalkeeper Harper set for Birmingham as Butland nears exit

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 9 July 2012

Steve Harper is set to join Birmingham City as player-coach – a huge hint that the Championship club will listen to offers for 19-year-old England goalkeeper Jack Butland.

Harper, 37, is out of contract at Newcastle United, having been a keeper there since 1993, and is considering an offer from former team-mate Lee Clark.

On the move: Butland looks set to leave Birmingham

On the move: Butland looks set to leave Birmingham

Speaking on Monday, Butland said: 'At the end of the day, it is all rumours until it becomes a necessity and it needs to happen.

'But for now, I am where I need to be. I need to play games at Birmingham and the rumours can carry on.

'They are no distraction for me. I know there are rumours but I can't let it affect what I do'

SPL investigate Rangers alleged undisclosed payments

Smoking gun: 45 Rangers staff named as receiving cash extras

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 23 May 2012

The SPL is coming under increasing pressure to step up its investigation into dual contract allegations at Rangers after admitting they are still waiting on documents from Ibrox three months after launching a probe into the troubled club.

While the league gave an assurance that its inquiry was progressing, a BBC documentary on Wednesday night – Rangers: The Men Who Sold the Jerseys – claimed to have documentary proof that 45 current and former Rangers players and staff were in possession of ‘side-letters’ promising them extra payments through the club’s controversial Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) scheme.

A matter of trust: Sportsmail revealed ex-director Hugh Adam's concerns on March 2

A matter of trust: Sportsmail revealed ex-director Hugh Adam's concerns on March 2

Such an arrangement, which would directly contravene SPL and SFA registration rules, allegedly included payments of 2.5million each – on top of regular salary and tax free – to former captains Barry Ferguson and Stefan Klos during their respective stays at Ibrox.

Despite the BBC’s forensic investigation of the matter, however, the SPL admitted on Wednesday night it had still not yet received the required documentary evidence from Rangers, despite the investigation being launched on March 5.

In a statement, an SPL spokesperson said: ‘The investigation into the EBT payments made by Rangers FC is being actively pursued on behalf of the SPL.

‘All relevant documents, materials and information have been sought from Rangers FC and we look forward to receiving full co-operation from the club and its administrators in providing everything that it and they have access to and which is required for the investigation to be completed.’

Investigation: The SPL are looking into alleged undisclosed payments

Investigation: The SPL are looking into alleged undisclosed payments

The SPL’s probe, which is being carried out by Glasgow firm Harper Macleod, covers the period stretching back to the competition’s inception in 1998.

SPL rules prohibit payments to players that are not made ‘in accordance with a form of contract approved by the SPL’.

The use of EBT payments, while not illegal if administered correctly, was the subject of a tax tribunal in January with the outcome still to be announced. Rangers could yet be liable for a bill of up to 75m.

The club previously admitted liability to the tax authorities for a 2.8m scheme which benefited Tore Andre Flo and Ronald de Boer between 1999 and 2003, although they failed to settle pay before going into administration in February over an unpaid tax bill of 13m.

Infamous: Whyte only took over at Rangers last summer

Infamous: Whyte only took over at Rangers last summer

On Wednesday night, administrators Duff & Phelps responded to the SPL’s statement.

Paul Clark, joint administrator, said: ‘The use of EBTs at Rangers goes back many years and was a matter of public record in the annual accounts.

‘Our primary focus has been ensuring the survival of Rangers Football Club and attracting a new buyer for the business as well as investigating the financial situation at the club since the takeover in May 2011.

‘We and the club will continue to give every assistance to the football authorities on issues affecting the club.

‘It should, however, be noted that the First Tier Tax tribunal has yet to publish its findings in relation to the use of EBTs.’

Tim Krul relishing No1 role at Newcastle

Now Dalglish's Kop flops have to face Krul and the gang

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 30 March 2012

We're sitting in the same dressing room at Newcastle's training ground where the shambolic North East media team got changed six years ago before a beating by Graeme Souness and his staff.

We were battered that day, taunted by Dean Saunders after his double hat-trick.

Two young Newcastle keepers played: Fraser Forster for us and Tim Krul for Souness, the man who signed him.

Rapid rise: Krul has drawn interest from Spurs and Chelsea

Rapid rise: Krul has drawn interest from Spurs and Chelsea

We reach the final question of my meeting with Krul ahead of Sunday's showdown with Liverpool, with qualification for the Europa League in the balance for both sides.

Krul has proved a man not afraid to speak his mind, even if the subject of that spat with Robin van Persie is out of bounds ('I've said all I need to say,' he explains).

For years, one of our number has dined out on his goal in that press game. And rightly so. Rob Stewart's header from my Sportsmail colleague Michael Walker's cross was memorable.

Krul had no chance. But sorry lads, Krul doesn't remember it.

Turning heads: Krul is arguably the best in the league

Turning heads: Krul is arguably the best in the league

'Your friend has asked but I had to tell him, I don't recall it at all,' he says.

What is not in question is the rest of the Tim Krul story.

Signed by Souness at 17 in 2005, Krul made his debut in the UEFA Cup later that year.

A knee injury kept him out for six months, then he returned from loan spells with Falkirk and Carlisle to challenge Shay Given and Steve Harper for the No 1 jersey.

This season he has arguably been the best keeper in the Barclays Premier League, playing well enough to turn the heads of Chelsea and Tottenham.

It is an impressive rise since the night in Sicily against Palermo when Krul was given his debut by Glenn Roeder.

'We went for a walk out of the hotel and he called me across and told me I was playing,' Krul says. 'I never dreamed it would happen then.'

His debut was so good one fan posted a compilation on YouTube.

Krul is Newcastle's No 1 now.

He sees imperfections in the saves he used to make, those of a kid flailing his arms and losing crucial nanoseconds.

He smiles, remembering the influence of his mentors Given and Harper. They tied his hands together.

'When I first came to England I was always waving my arms about,' he says.

'You should always have them in front of you, so that if someone hits a shot, you are ready. Sometimes when a shot was hit at me, my hands were still by my side.

'They used to hammer me. Eventually one day they tied my wrists by sticking together the Velcro from the straps on left and right gloves. You get the message after something as extreme as that. They both really looked after me. They were like two big brothers and I owe them a lot. They were never too big to guide me and I listened.' He pauses and laughs.

Hands in front: A lesson learned the hard way for Newcastle's shot-stopper

Hands in front: A lesson learned the hard way for Newcastle's shot-stopper

'Also off the field… don't even ask.'

Harper had to step aside when Alan Pardew decided Krul would start this season as No 1.

It was cruel on Harper, who had waited a decade for the honour, but Krul has been inspired.

Not that his graduation was ever in doubt.

Forced to wait: Steve Harper

Forced to wait: Steve Harper

Signed after a successful Under 19 tournament for Holland, Krul was made promises, providing he fulfilled his potential.

He kept his end of the bargain – and so did Newcastle.

'They offered me a whole plan and they have kept to it,' he says. 'It was always step by step. And it was reliant on me. It is hard to be patient but those little promises kept me going.'

Krul lived in digs near Newcastle's training ground when he left ADO Den Haag, and lived with landlord Glynn Marshall.

'He pulled me through and looked after me,' he says. 'It's not easy coming here so young and I couldn't have done it on my own.'

Not that Krul had any doubts about moving to England. He had been dreaming of a career here since the age of 12.

He says: 'My old team came over for a tournament and we went on the tours to Old Trafford and Anfield, but we were only allowed to walk down the tunnel and pitchside. It's funny how you have a different perspective when you are 12, and everything seems so much bigger compared to now.

'There were signs saying you could not go on the pitch, but I was very tempted to jump over the ropes. From that moment it was my dream to play in England. When Newcastle called there was no way I could say no. I always stayed up watching Match of the Day after midnight to watch Dutch players.'

Krul played the last six games of last season and made his Holland debut in the summer. The 23-year-old, who has kept 10 clean sheets, has been at the heart of Newcastle's unexpected resurgence.

Krul says: 'The manager called me in the week before the season and said, “Tim, you're starting the season and you have to prove you deserve the shirt and should be playing every week”.

'I was grateful the gaffer gave me the opportunity and I could not have wished for a better season so far but I need that mentality. It keeps me on my toes.'

Heated exchange: Arsenal's Robin van Persie squares up to Krul

Heated exchange: Arsenal's Robin van Persie squares up to Krul

Krul adds: 'The target this season was top 10 and from the second week we have been in the top seven, so we have been really performing amazingly. We have not looked back since going unbeaten in the first 11 games.

'The belief is there and the manager keeps hammering at us that we have eight games to go, we are eight points ahead of Liverpool and level with Chelsea. He keeps drumming it into us that we have to believe. What a chance we have, so why not take it You don't get them very often.'

Tim Krul was speaking on behalf of Barclays Ticket Office.

Fans can win tickets to Premier League matches every 90 minutes by going to a Barclays ATM and requesting a receipt, or by visiting www.barclaysticketoffice.co.uk