Hughton: Harper for England!

Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton believes Fabio Capello should pick St. James' Park stopper Steve Harper ahead of West Ham United's Rob Green, Portsmouth glove-man David James and Manchester United custodian Ben Foster for the 2010 World Cup finals.

Capello faces a goalkeeper selection headache ahead of next summer's showpiece with James struggling for fitness and fellow England hopefuls Green and Foster yet to convince Capello that they should be his first choice.

Harper waited 16 years to become Newcastle’s No.1 goalkeeper, and finally got his chance last season after Shay Given departed for Manchester City.

And the Geordie has grabbed the opportunity with both hands in 2009/10, playing a key part in the Magpies possessing the best defensive record in the country, keeping an impressive 11 clean sheets.

Although currently plying his trade in the Championship, the Newcastle custodian has made over 50 appearances for Newcastle in the Premier League.

And boss Hughton believes Capello should hand the 34-year-old international honours.

“It is the England manager’s prerogative to look at all English keepers," he said in The Mirror.

"He has to pick who he wants, but if I look at Steve Harper’s performances for us, I don’t think there are many better than him.

“Steve is a goalkeeper that has matured, and I think he is at his prime at this particular moment, and the types of saves he is making are not easy ones.

“He has made all sorts of saves, generally reflex saves, and of course that all stems from being at the right place at the right time.

“I think he is in top form at the moment. I think he is a goalkeeper who has been such great value to us and certainly we would not have the amount of points we have at the moment if it was not for him.”