1st Team Squad Goalkeepers: Tim Krul, Fraser Forster, Steve Harper, Ole Soderberg
Overview: The goalkeeping division of the Newcastle squad is one of the most competitive and interesting in the Premier League. Three goalkeepers with different strengths and weaknesses all of whom will think the starting position is theirs for the taking. Steve Harper represents the experience; the old hand who uses his nous to accentuate his natural ability. Tim Krul is a more energetic – sometimes even frenetic – young goalkeeper who thinks he can deal with everything that gets thrown at him. In terms of physique, Fraser Forster is the more traditional option, but height is far from being his only strength. He’s highly agile and blessed with excellent reflexes. He possibly doesn’t command his penalty area with the authority befitting of a man of his stature and his handling could do with improvement but his season at Celtic has greatly aided his development to the point where you would have little concern about him being a Premier League starter and he can’t be too far from Fabio Capello’s thoughts for the England squad. Second guessing what’s going to happen at St. James Park is a hazardous occupation, but of the trio, my gut instinct is Forster is the best option – however Alan Pardew seems to disagree. The speculation is he can return to Glasgow on a permanent basis for the right fee. The magic number to keep both sides happy is thought to be around £3.5 million but with money tight in the SPL, Celtic may struggle to meet that valuation. Forster has featured in much of the Magpies’ pre-season programme, but it’s difficult to draw any firm conclusions from that. The chances are Tim Krul will start the season as first choice, but as Pardew has two more than capable options ready to step-in, don’t be surprised to see changes throughout the season to account for fluctuations in form.
Worst Case Scenario: Even if Krul and Harper have poor seasons, you would imagine Newcastle should be safe. Their worst case scenario is a longer term nightmare. If they let Forster go too cheap and he continues to improve like I think he might – with Krul and Harper struggling all the while – they’ll end up looking foolish and with an expensive bill to find a suitable replacement.
What will probably happen: Krul will continue to perform well, but still have those rushes of blood to the head. If he’s not sold by the end of August, Forster will step in. He’s not the finished article yet, so may also make errors, in which case Steve Harper will get the job until his performance dips or injuries catch up with him – whichever happens first. I’ve heard good reports of Soderberg. If Forster stays, he’s likely to go out on loan, but if the move to Celtic happens, he’ll probably kept around as cover for Krul and Harper.