Hughton tips Harper for England

Newcastle manager thinks goalkeeper's superb season makes him Capello candidate

The Newcastle manager, Chris Hughton, would have no qualms in recommending goalkeeper Steve Harper if England came calling. The 34-year-old has been in superb form for the Magpies this season after finally getting his chance following Shay Given's departure for Manchester City in January.

Manchester United's Ben Foster has started England's last two games, but David James, Robert Green, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson have also had their opportunities in recent years.

However, Harper, who spent so long in Given's shadow, has never been in a position to stake a claim for a place in the squad, and while that may remain the case as long as he is plying his trade in the Championship, Hughton would give Capello a ringing endorsement if he was asked.

Asked what he would say to the Italian to promote Harper's cause, he replied: "I would say that, at Steve's age now, he is in his prime. He is a player of great, great maturity, and he is able to still make the reflex saves he has made for us in recent games. You go back to Sheffield United – he is still able to make the great reflex saves."

Harper produced a series of excellent stops in Saturday's 2-0 win over Watford to claim an 11th clean sheet of the campaign which helped the Magpies to stretch their lead at the top of the table to four points with a sixth successive win. He will go into battle once again at Coventry tonight with Hughton singing his praises for his contribution to that run of results.

The manager said: "I was asked about the defensive record we have at the moment, and it is very much a team effort, very much. I don't think you can have the record we have with just having a good back four, it's about having a good team.

"But the one person you are always really pleased for is the goalkeeper when you are able to keep clean sheets. He has been wonderful for us, he has been immense. In games when we haven't conceded too many chances, they have been good chances and at the right moments, he has made vital saves. That is the sign of a really good keeper, making vital saves at vital times."

Newcastle will head for the Ricoh Arena without their suspended midfielder Kevin Nolan, and a question mark remains over the young striker Andy Carroll following his arrest during the early hours of Monday morning in connection with an allegation of assault.

However, Nicky Butt is available, as is the striker Shola Ameobi for the first time since the end of August.

Tonight's opponents lie in 20th place and have won only two games on their own pitch all season – against Ipswich and Sheffield United – and taken just four points from the last 27 they have contested home and away, but Hughton is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "They are a side which hasn't had the best of form, but they might look at it that we are the type of team that will get them going, and we have just got to make sure that's not the case. We are playing at a wonderful stadium and there will be another big crowd there.

"It's something that we are having to get used to, everybody being lifted by the fact they are playing against us in the position we are in this division. We certainly don't think it is going to be a comfortable game and we have just got to make sure enough things go our way."

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape