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Chris Hughton deserves recognition says Steve Harper

Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper has praised manager Chris Hughton for dragging the club back from the brink of turmoil.

The Magpies were in disarray in the wake of relegation from the Barclays Premier League during the summer of last year when Hughton was asked to take over on a caretaker basis for the third time.

However, a little more than a year since he was handed the job on a permanent basis, the 51-year-old has a successful promotion campaign under his belt and last Sunday saw his side cement a solid start to life back in the top flight with a rousing 5-1 derby victory over arch rivals Sunderland.

That famous win came against the backdrop of an ongoing debate over his contractual situation, and while Harper did not wander into that territory, he insisted Hughton's contribution to a concerted fightback cannot be under-estimated.

The 35-year-old told the Journal: "This club hasn't always been stable. As recently as 15 months ago, we were surrounded by turmoil and uncertainty.

"From last August, when Chris was appointed as manager, we have had a fantastic, stable period. Chris has worked hard and he has galvanised the place.

"He has done a brilliant job and he is starting to get the plaudits he deserves.

"He is incredible. He is always the same - he doesn't get carried away when things are going well, and he doesn't get too down when they are not.

"He is very level-headed, which is what this club needs. He is the perfect man for the job."

Harper was a spectator on Sunday as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery, and although he remains on track, he is still several weeks away from a return.

However, he might have suffered a minor setback as the Magpies' exploits against the Black Cats almost got the better of him.

He said: "I hurt myself celebrating the fourth goal when Shola (Ameobi) volleyed it in.

"While everyone else was jumping around, I was nearly crying. But I will gladly hurt my arm celebrating that."