NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has told goalkeeper Jak Alnwick to forget his White Hart Lane nightmare and make himself a derby hero.
The 21-year-old, who has been thrown in at the deep end in the wake of injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, endured a difficult evening as Tottenham put four past him, the first as a result of his own howler, in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup quarter-final.
To make matters worse, he suffered a shoulder injury which initially threatened his participation in Sunday’s showdown with Sunderland at St James’ Park and prompted Pardew to consider seeking permission to make an emergency loan signing.
However, Alnwick has recovered and will now be handed the chance to make amends in the fixture which matters more than most on Tyneside.
Pardew said: “I have certainly had a chat with him and I would have done that if he hadn’t made a mistake because I think it’s important to talk to young players who are going into the first team.
“I think he was unlucky with his mistake because he got punished severely with it. You can get away with that sometimes - and I have played with much better goalies than Jak, without being disrespectful to him, who have got away with it.
“They have dropped it and someone has cleared it, or it was blocked on the line or something, so I explained that to him. I think he realised that.
“He was apologetic about the mistake, as you would imagine, but I said to him it’s important not to be too apologetic, that’s it’s gone.
“We make mistakes in other areas and they are all forgotten; you make a mistake there and it isn’t, so he grasped that.
“He’s a local boy, he wants to make amends this Sunday in terms of a real performance, and all my squad and my staff, because we like him, will be wishing that happens.”
Alnwick announced his arrival on the big stage in style earlier this month when he replaced the injured Elliot at half-time against Chelsea at St James’ and played his part in a 2-1 victory, the Blues’ first defeat of the season.
His first involvement was to come for a swinging Cesc Fabregas free-kick which he punched clear, flattening striker Diego Costa in the process, much to the appreciation of his team-mates and the home crowd.
Life since has been more testing, but Pardew is confident he will cope with the pressure this weekend.
The 53-year-old said: “He’s a laid-back guy, but he was upset. His aura in the goal was affected a little bit after the mistake and you can understand that.
“But he has had two, three days to wash it over, whatever it will be, and that’s the game because if I, after being beaten 3-0 by Sunderland, think ‘Oh well that’s it then, it’s done, it’s all over’, you can’t go forward.
“He will learn massively from this period in the goal. Whatever line his career takes, this is going to be a massive period for him.
“He did brilliantly against Chelsea, everyone was raving about him. Now he has had a down-turn against Spurs and now he has got the other side of the coin, all in the space of eight or nine days, and that is football.
“In a minuscule way, he’s had football at the highest level, and now he needs to respond.”