New goalkeeping coach Steve Harper 'really impressed' by NI keepers

Steve Harper
Harper is also goalkeeping coach of Newcastle United's Under-23s.

Northern Ireland goalkeeping coach Steve Harper says he has been impressed by the squad as they prepare for their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Conor Hazard and Michael McGovern are in contention to start Thursday's game against Estonia at Windsor Park.

"I (have) had a good look at them," said Harper.

"Michael had an incredible time with his country in the Euros and there are two outstanding young goalkeepers."

The former Newcastle United keeper is lead goalkeeping coach at the club's academy having spent 20 years there as a player.

He agreed to join Michael O'Neill's coaching staff after Maik Taylor stepped down from the role to take up a position at Bradford City.

Of Northern Ireland's three keepers, only 21-year-old Hazard is seeing regular game-time at Partick Thistle, where he is currently on loan from Celtic.

Leeds United's Peacock-Farrell has been O'Neill's preferred choice in recent games and made his first competitive appearances during the inaugural Nations League campaign.

"I've been impressed with them. We've had two really long days, given the intensity in a short period of time," Harper said.

"We got a good work day in yesterday and then went up early this morning, started early and got a really good session in today (Tuesday) as well."

Northern Ireland face Belarus on Sunday before travelling to Tallinn and Minsk in June.

They will end their Group D campaign with home and away fixtures against the Netherlands and Germany.

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