Newcastle players must accept rotation says Steve Harper amid Demba Ba complaints

 

Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper has warned his team-mates they cannot expect to start every game as they attempt to cope with a gruelling schedule.

Striker Demba Ba was clearly unhappy to be named among the substitutes for Monday night's draw at Everton, in which he came off the bench to score both his side's goals, while his agent added fuel to the fire when he hinted that the Senegal international might have to look elsewhere if that were to be repeated.

Ba was not on the plane which left Tyneside for Madeira and tonight's Europa League clash with Maritimo as Pardew left him, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez and the sick Papiss Cisse behind along with various injured players and the suspended Hatem Ben Arfa ahead of Sunday's league clash with Norwich.

And Harper, 37, admitted players will have to get used to that as the season progresses.

He said: "Yes, especially given the volume of games we have. Sometimes the manager will leave people out for their own benefit to keep them fresh and give them a little rest.

"It's important when you do get the opportunity that you try to take it. The manager has said the league has to be the priority for this club.

"Everyone involved last year, it was an absolutely incredible effort from everybody to finish fifth in a very tough Premier League, and that has to remain the priority.

"But Europe is an opportunity for people who haven't maybe played so much in the league to send a message to the manager - Demba did it very impressively on Monday night - and it gives a few people the opportunity, whatever team the manager picks, to let him know they want to be featuring in the Premier League games."

Harper played his first Premier League game in 17 months at Goodison Park in place of the injured Tim Krul, having been handed a first senior appearance since April last year against Greek side Atromitos last month.

He is a veteran of the club's last Champions League campaign in 2002-03, when he played in famous victories over Juventus and Dynamo Kiev on Tyneside.

He was also part of the team which suffered the ignominy of relegation from the top flight at Aston Villa on the final day of the 2008-09 campaign, and he admits playing in Europe again so soon afterwards could not even have been contemplated at the time.

He said: "The journey to get back here has certainly been an eventful one, but what else would you expect from Newcastle United?

"It's probably happened a lot sooner than people thought and there are a few people who deserve a lot of credit along the way for that.

"Just walking around the city and hearing people who are going to Bruges and looking forward to it, and Bordeaux and the demand for tickets, the fans really are going to make the most of it."

PA

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