ALAN Pardew says goalkeeper Steve Harper’s next club will be in safe hands.
Harper will bring the curtain down on his 20-year Newcastle United career at St James’s Park tomorrow.
The 38-year-old, the longest-serving player in the club’s history, will be between the posts against Arsenal with Tim Krul injured and Rob Elliot suspended.
However, United manager Pardew admits he would have considered handing Harper a start had Elliot not been sent off in last weekend’s win at Loftus Road given his contribution to the cause over the past two decades.
Harper is keen to play on for another season, and Pardew feels the Easington-born player has a lot to offer his next club.
“It’s something I’d have thought about, if I’m honest, as it will be his last game for this football club,” Pardew said.
“I spoke to him, and he definitely wants to play one more year, or maybe two more years.
“He should – he’s got the ability to do that, and he can show that on Sunday.”
Harper – who has turned out 198 times for Newcastle – could be in for a busy afternoon, with Arsenal needing a win to secure Champions League football.
And Pardew’s hopeful his side, beaten 7-3 by Arsene Wenger’s side at the Emirates Stadium in December, can limit the visitors’ chances.
“We owe it to Harps to put on a real, solid defensive display in front of him,” he said.
“The players looked really tight and tense before the QPR game. We ain’t got that pressure – that burden – that we had in the weeks before.
“I’m hoping that makes the difference to some of our players, and they free up a little bit, and we have a bit more fluidity in our football.
“In the last three of four weeks, it’s been about getting over the line.
“Harps comes into a team, hopefully, which has got the shackles lifted a little bit.”