Summer decision over goalkeeper understudy
NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew admits he will wait until the summer to make a decision over who will act as understudy to Steve Harper next season. The Magpies boss has a difficult decision to make with Tim Krul and Fraser Forster both staking admirable cases to challenge Harper next season. Over the past two seasons, Dutchman Krul has been preferred as back-up to Harper but the Magpies boss says he will give Forster the chance to impress him over the summer. The Hexham-born stopper has spent the last two seasons out on loan at Norwich and Celtic, playing regular firstteam football and gaining a number of admirers with his consistent performances. The 23-year-old has impressed so much north of the border that the Scottish club are understood to be very interested in signing the keeper on a permanent basis, although Pardew was quick to rebuff any potential approach. Although Krul hasn't played as many first-team games as Forster in the past two years, the 23-year-old did enjoy a spell in the Magpies goal earlier this season when he replaced the injured Harper. And apart from a mistake which gifted Manchester City an opener in the Boxing Day defeat at St James' Park, Krul has done nothing to hinder his case with Pardew. While Pardew insists it is a nice problem to have, the Magpies boss admits he won't be able to keep all three at the club on a permanent basis. I don't think I can carry three goalkeepers next season, Pardew said. I will take two seniors and loan the other one out. It might be Tim, it might be Fraser. It will depend on pre-season and how they do then. It will depend on Harps. It's a nice problem to have. It's one of the few areas where we have real competition for places. That's what I'm focused on in the summer, improving the competition for places throughout the squad. Fraser has got experience over the last two years, Tim hasn't had quite so much. The question mark is can they dislodge Harps because he is number one, and who is going to go out on loan and who is going to stay and push him for a year. Tim has done a good job of that, but it's a question I won't think about too much until we come back. With a test against Manchester United next up for Newcastle tomorrow night, Pardew is hoping to have Shola Ameobi available after a knee problem kept him out of last weekend's defeat to Aston Villa. He has been plagued by niggling injuries this season and the Magpies boss admits he has to carefully manage Ameobi's fitness. I think Shola can play two games a week, but we do struggle to keep him fit, Pardew said. If you look at his career, that has always been a problem. He's a big guy and he has that ability to nick the ball and get clattered by a centre-half. Those players are always vulnerable to injury. This injury isn't down to contact, it's just down to wear and tear. He had a bit of swelling and we're relieved it's nothing too serious. The scan coming back was brilliant news because it does not look like there is anything major going on, we should be okay, but I'll have to manage him.
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