Harper backed for vital role
Chris Hughton believes Steve Harper has a 'massive' role to play in Newcastle's relegation battle.
Last Updated: 30/03/09 5:31pm
Chris Hughton believes Steve Harper has a 'massive' role to play in Newcastle's battle against relegation.
Shay Given's move to Manchester City in the winter transfer window gave Harper the chance to become Newcastle's first-choice goalkeeper at the age of 34.
Having waited patiently for his opportunity, Harper has produced a series of accomplished displays over the last couple of months.
However, Newcastle remain in trouble with just eight games of the campaign to play as they are currently two points from safety.
Caretaker boss Hughton accepts that Harper will be a central figure as the season reaches a dramatic conclusion.
Asked how big a part Harper will have to play, Hughton replied: "Massive, not only because of the position he plays, but he is also the longest-serving player here.
"For the Manchester United game, he was captain, so that shows how he is looked upon at this club, and he is vitally important because of his position and the person he is."
Harper has been at St James' Park since 1993 and Hughton feels he brings a great deal of experience and calmness to the squad.
Hughton said: "In this period of time, he is quite a calm individual and is a soothing influence.
"Vocally, you want him to be on top of players, but he has also got to be one who can calm situations and alleviate a little bit of pressure on the back four and the team."