Steve Harper targets NUFC survival

Steve Harper insists a victory is his priority on Sunday - not a clean sheet.
Steve Harper insists a victory is his priority on Sunday - not a clean sheet.

NEWCASTLE United have started the New Year on the front foot in the Premier League – and Steve Harper is confident they can stay there.

Harper and his team-mates go into next Wednesday’s game at Fulham on the back of a four-game unbeaten run.

And having taken 30 points from their first 23 games, Newcastle are close to securing top-flight football for another season at St James’s Park.

Already, they are just four points off the points haul of the relegation campaign the season before last.

However, while United’s fans are looking upwards to the European places, with Alan Pardew’s side lying ninth in the table, goalkeeper Harper insists the club’s players are still focused on those teams below them.

And the first – and last – objective remains Premier League safety.

“Nobody’s setting any targets of 34 points, or anything like that,” Harper told SportMail. “It’s an old cliché, but we’re just churning out games, and trying to put points on the board.

“As long as we keep that, the better. It’s been a good start to 2011 – four games unbeaten – and if we can keep that run going through Fulham away and Arsenal at home it’ll put us in good stead.

“We just have to keep churning it out. If there’s a gap appearing, let’s keep it there, and make it bigger.

“That’s what we have to keep doing. If we can stay up, and stay up comfortably, it’ll be a fantastic achievement.

“There’s still a long, long way to go.

“The fans want us to finish above Sunderland, but our first priority at the start of the season was to stay up.

“Once we’ve achieved that, and if we do it with several fixtures to go, we’ll set ourselves another target.

“No one’s getting carried away in that dressing room.”

Read the full story in Friday’s Hartlepool Mail ...