STEVE Harper says he is more than ready to step into Tim Krul’s shoes if the Dutch goalkeeper fails to recover in time for Monday’s trip to Everton.
Krul is a serious doubt for the Premier League game after injuring his elbow on international duty with Holland last week.
It means that Harper is on standby to start his first Premier League game since April 2011 when he was in goal for the Magpies’ 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
Harper lost his position after that clash to a knee injury and then watched as Krul seized his opportunity with both hands to establish himself as Alan Pardew’s No1.
Harper, meanwhile, struggled to overcome his knee problem, and slipped down the pecking order behind Rob Elliot, even going out on loan to Brighton for a month last season.
But this summer he came back to pre-season stronger and fitter than he had in a long while, and has moved above Elliot in the queue to replace Krul – as shown when he was handed the goalkeeper’s jersey for the Europa League tie in Athens against Atromitos when the Dutchman was rested.
The 38-year-old insists that appearance has sharpened him up to fill in for Krul again if needed.
Harper said: “I feel the best I’ve felt for a long time.
“We all knew that this season there was a chance to get games under our belts.
“We all want to remind him we’re ready if needed.”