Harper up for the fight
Steve Harper insists Newcastle are not set to wilt in the battle to avoid the Premier League drop.
Last Updated: 09/03/09 12:39pm
Steve Harper insists Newcastle are not set to wilt in the face of a daunting climax to the battle for Premier League survival.
A difficult season for the Magpies looks set to go to the wire as the club sit one point above the bottom three, having played a game more than 18th-placed Blackburn and 17th-placed Portsmouth.
Arguably, Newcastle face the most testing final 10 games of all the clubs in the bottom half of the table, with trips to relegation rivals Stoke and Tottenham on April's schedule, while North-East rivals Middlesbrough, and high-flying Arsenal and Chelsea are to visit St James' Park before the end of term.
Newcastle are also due to travel to Liverpool, and conclude their campaign against UEFA Champions League-chasing Aston Villa but, after ending last season with a haul of 18 points from a potential 30, Harper is confident.
Ahead of Saturday's crucial game at Hull City, the goalkeeper told The Journal: "It's very similar to last season and I didn't think I would be saying that again.
"But we finished the season well last year and we can do the same this time.
"People keep talking about the games we've got at home, but the away games are just as important.
"We've got winnable games against other teams around us in the table, but we're not going into the games against Arsenal and Chelsea writing them off.
"It's not the attitude we have."
Harper highlights the point secured at Manchester United in their first game of 2008/09, which remains the only time this season an away side have left Old Trafford with a share of the league spoils, as another reason for optimism.
Newcastle also frustrated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a November stalemate and ran United close in a 2-1 defeat at St James' Park last week, giving Harper further hope.
"We've got a point at Manchester United and Chelsea this season and had decent results against the big teams at home in recent years," he added.
"We can't sit there and say we'll get the points here or there, you get them where you can, whoever the opposition are.
"The performance against Man United at home should give us plenty of encouragement."