Hughton expects experience to help Harper come back firing

Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton is convinced goalkeeper Steve Harper will return as good as ever after his lengthy injury lay-off.

The 35-year-old is facing 12 weeks on the sidelines after damaging a ligament in his shoulder during the 1-0 Barclays Premier League win at Everton on 18 September.

However, Hughton is confident Harper will be back to play a key role once again. He said: "Particularly with goalkeepers, I don't think the age aspect comes into it. What you perhaps lose a little bit in age, you gain in experience, as Steve showed last season when he was outstanding. We would expect Steve to come back firing and looking into get straight back into that goalkeeping spot."

In the meantime, young Dutchman Tim Krul will deputise with Swede Ole Soderberg providing the back-up as Fraser Forster continues his loan spell at Celtic.

Krul took over from Harper at Goodison Park and was between the posts for the 4-3 Carling Cup third-round win at Chelsea last Wednesday evening, although he tasted defeat on Sunday when Stoke City became the second visiting side in succession to leave St James' Park with all three points.

Hughton has refused to get carried away by either success or failure so far this season, and although he admitted his disappointment in the immediate aftermath of James Perch's decisive own goal at the weekend, he knows last season's Championship title winners will have their ups and downs as they attempt to establish themselves back in the top flight.

He said: "We know every game that we now enter is a tough game than can go any way, and if we are not at our best, where potentially we can win football matches, then we know there can always be an upset."

Meanwhile, Hughton is hopeful that Sol Campbell, who made his senior debut for the club at Chelsea, could be available for Sunday's tough league trip to Manchester City.

The 36-year-old returned from Stamford Bridge with a slight thigh strain and failed a fitness test ahead of the Stoke game, but he is expected to be available for selection this weekend.

Gabriel Agbonlahor is Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier's main injury concern ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League match at Tottenham.

The England striker has been suffering from calf and now groin problems this season.

Agbonlahor missed the first three games of the campaign because of a calf injury and had to be substituted after half an hour of last week's Carling Cup win over Blackburn with a similar setback.

Houllier admitted: "My concern is Gabby because he again has felt his groin. We will have to investigate a bit more. The calf problem has gone now. Now it's gone up his body. I hope it doesn't get much higher."

Houllier has received encouraging news regarding central defender Richard Dunne and striker John Carew. The duo are making good progress after knee and back problems respectively and should be in contention for the trip to White Hart Lane.

Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald had indicated Carew was struggling to play back-to-back matches because of his back complaint before he was replaced by Houllier.

Dunne suffered his setback in the match at Stoke just over two weeks ago. But Houllier admits the form of Carlos Cuellar as his replacement has given him a welcome selection headache. He said: "That sort of headache I can take. A bad headache is when you've not got enough players. Carlos looked strong and solid and reminded me of Jamie Carragher. He goes for everything in the air and is brave."

Birmingham City have awarded new improved contracts to first-team coach Andy Watson and goalkeeping coach Dave Watson. The duo have put pen to paper in the aftermath of Blues manager Alex McLeish signing a new deal 10 days ago.

The Watsons have played an integral part in City gaining promotion from the Coca Cola Championship and establishing themselves in the Barclays Premier League.

England No 1 Joe Hart has constantly praised Dave Watson for the part he played in improving him as a keeper during his season long loan at St Andrew's from Manchester City.

Andy Watson said: "First and foremost, everything revolves around Alex and once the club came to his agreement on his contract, then we could move forward together.

"Myself and Dave were delighted the owners looked at our contracts. I think that was a recognition of the work we are all trying to do here and what we have done as a group over the past couple of years. We came back up from the Championship and are trying to get established as a Premier League side, as difficult as that is, and will continue to work hard to achieve that."

Birmingham have made a solid start to the season with seven points from six games but have only picked up the one victory despite being difficult to beat.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain