STEVE Harper’s rolled up his sleeves – and rolled back the years – for Newcastle United this season.
And the long-serving goalkeeper has been given a ringing endorsement from manager Alan Pardew ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Manchester United.
Harper’s didn’t make a first-team appearance last term – and his future at St James’s Park looked in doubt.
But the 37-year-old has already turned out five times for the club this season – and is closing in on his 200th appearance.
“Our fans love him, and so do we,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“He’s a very, very important player – he’s been brilliant for us.”
Harper lost the goalkeeping jersey to Tim Krul at the start of last season.
“Harps has come out and said the blow of not getting the No1 jersey hurt him,” added Pardew.
“I think it hurt his professionalism and his pride, and you’d expect that. I wouldn’t have expected a man of his nature not to. He’s a big character.
“This year he’s come back saying ‘OK, I’m going to fight for my place’.
“What’s happened is that it’s fell his way, and he’s taken his opportunity.”
Harper came off the bench against Bordeaux on Thursday night to make his 195th appearance for United.