Birmingham keen on Newcastle United’s Harper as new coach

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LEE Clark has been linked with another swoop on Newcastle United – this time for Steve Harper.

Clark yesterday signed former Newcastle United striker Peter Lovenkrands on a two-year deal.

And Clark – who could lose highly-rated England goalkeeper Jack Butland this summer – is reportedly ready to return to his native Tyneside again to sign long-serving Harper.

Harper said late last season he already had an eye on a coaching career.

“It’s always something I dismissed, but as you get older, I might just be tempted to have a go,” said Harper, who was taking his Uefa B badge.

“I’ll be a qualified coach and goalkeeping coach by the time I finish. You just see what opportunities arise.”

Former Newcastle midfielder Clark – who succeeded ex-manager Chris Hughton at St Andrew’s last month – is looking to sign a coach.

Birmingham’s goalkeeping coach, Dave Watson, followed Hughton to Norwich City.

And Harper – who lost his place between the posts at United last season to Tim Krul – could be tempted by a move to St Andrew’s.

Clark faces a battle to hold on to 19-year-old Butland, who will represent Great Britain in the Olympic football tournament this month.

Harper is Newcastle’s longest-serving player, his career at the club spanning 19 years. The Easington-born player was signed by Kevin Keegan in 1993 from non-league club Seaham Red Star.

Harper has gone on to make 190 appearances for the club.

Arguably, he would have played double that amount of games, at least, and represented England had it not been for the form of Shay Given during his career on Tyneside.

Harper became Newcastle’s first-choice after Given’s exit, and last season Krul wrestled the goalkeeping jersey from him.

Pardew signed Rob Elliot from Charlton Athletic last season to compete with Krul and Harper.

One senior goalkeeper has already left the Sports Direct Arena this summer, with Fraser Forster joined Celtic in a £2m deal earlier this month.