Given feels for Newcastle pal Harper

Shay Given admits he felt for fellow Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper after taking his place for Saturday's defeat at Manchester City.

He said: "I had a word with Steve - he was frustrated. It is difficult for both of us when we are not playing.

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"We both get as frustrated as each other. We both want to play and the manager's decision could have gone either way. Steve could have played just as easily.

"We are both itching to play and it's the manager's decision. Luckily for me, he picked me.

"The problem with goalkeepers is that only one of us can play. We work together every day and try to help each other as much as we can.

"I am sure come Monday morning, it will be the same."

Sam Allardyce admitted Given's display in the Carling Cup third round defeat at Arsenal last Tuesday night had persuaded him to restore the 31-year-old to the starting line-up.

He said: "It was a really difficult decision. I just thought on the Arsenal performance, it was the right thing to put him in. That was my gut feeling.

"If ever there was a player who did not deserve to be dropped, it was Stevie Harper.

"But you have got to go with your gut feeling, and the gut feeling was to go with Shay based on the outstanding performance I thought he put in against Arsenal."

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