Newcastle Utd’s Harper hoping to use his European experience

NUMBER 37: Steve Harper
NUMBER 37: Steve Harper

STEVE Harper is hoping to bring his European experience to bear at Newcastle United this season.

Harper is in line to start against Greek side Atromitos in Athens tomorrow night, with first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul expected to be rested ahead of Saturday’s visit to Chelsea.

Should Harper get the nod, it would be his first competitive appearance for the club since April last year.

The 37-year-old - the club’s long-serving player - is back in the fold after a frustrating season on the bench and in the treatment room.

And Harper is relishing the challenge of helping Newcastle through their two-legged Europa League qualifier and into the group stage of the competition.

United’s pre-season, which took in games against Fenerbahce, Monaco, Braga and Olympiakos, was geared towards preparing Alan Pardew’s players for Europe.

“Hopefully, we’ll come through the qualifier,” Harper said.

“We sampled what European football will be like playing against the likes of Fenerbahce and Monaco.

“Some of the lads hadn’t experienced what it’s like to play teams who keep the ball, and foreign referees are a little bit different.

“It’s about getting used to the routine of night games away from home.”

The pre-season fixtures brought back memories for the likes of Harper, Shola Ameobi and Steven Taylor, who have a wealth of European experience between them.

Harper added: “The lads have been asking me and Tayls a lot of questions about what it’s like in Europe.

“Hopefully, we’ll come through the qualifier and give them a bit more of a taste.

“There is a few of us who have experienced it - me, Shola and Steven Taylor. We’ve played a lot of it.

“We’ve told a few stories from back in the day. Hopefully, we can get back to that.”

Harper - who played in the Champions League under Sir Bobby Robson - has made 17 appearances in Europe for the club.