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Steve Harper to leave Newcastle at the end of the season
STEVE Harper will leave Newcastle United at the end of the season after two decades of service with the club.
Harper, who is the longest-serving player on the Magpies' books by a distance, will not be offered a new deal when his current contract expires in the summer.
However, the 38-year-old is not ready to call time on his playing career and is hoping to secure a player-coach deal that will enable him to complete his coaching qualifications while still being available for first-team selection.
A number of Championships clubs are already understood to have inquired about Harper's potential availability.
“If you had said to me as a raw kid from Seaham that I'd be at the club for 20 years as a professional, I would have said you were mad,” said Harper, who joined Newcastle from Seaham Red Star in 1993.
“People describe the club as an emotional roller-coaster and it certainly has been. I've had some fantastic times here. There have been some difficult times as well, but I have enjoyed it all.”
With Tim Krul likely to be sidelined for another couple of weeks, Harper will hope to return to the substitutes' bench to deputise for Rob Elliot when Newcastle return to Premier League action at Manchester City a week tomorrow.
Unless Elliot suffers an injury setback, the veteran is unlikely to add his 197 senior appearances in a Newcastle shirt.
However, a number of Newcastle supporters' groups have called for Harper's one-club loyalty to be rewarded with a testimonial at the end of the campaign.