Ole Soderberg ready to step up to the plate

Follow Gazette writer Miles Starforth on Twitter here] CHRIS Hughton might face an anxious wait to see if goalkeeper Tim Krul returns from international duty unscathed.

After all, Newcastle United's first-choice goalkeeper Steve Harper is already sidelined for three months with an injury.

But rookie Ole Soderberg is confident he'll be up to the challenge if the unthinkable happens to Krul, who is involved in Holland's two-legged European Under-21 Championship play-off against Ukraine.

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Soderberg has been promoted to the bench since Harper suffered shoulder ligament damage at Everton last month.

And having put an injury-ravaged 12 months behind him, the Swede is confident he'll be equal to the task if he's called upon by Hughton, whose side are back in action a week tomorrow when Wigan Athletic visit St James's Park.

Soderberg – who kept a clean sheet for the club's reserves in their goalless draw against Aston Villa on Tuesday – has been working hard with goalkeeping coach Paul Barron, and insists he's as sharp as he ever has been in his career.

"Being on the bench for this club's an honour," Soderberg told the Gazette.

"Every game is a new experience – we're travelling all over England.

"Obviously, it's a good experience to be with the first team, and I like it very much.

"Chris gives me a lot of confidence when he puts me in the squad. Unfortunately, Harps is injured, so I'm with the team all the time now.

"Anything can happen. I'm just keeping my hopes up.

"My thoughts go to Harps – you don't want to see anyone injured – but it's how the business is.

"I was unlucky last year with injuries, so I'm just going to work really hard to get my chance.

"I got an injury to my left knee at the start of the season, and was out two months.

"Then I was fit for a week, and got injured again. I landed on my left shoulder when I dived. Then it was another month, and I got injured on my right knee.

"Last season was a nightmare, so, touch wood, I'm hoping for the best this year.

"I'm just working hard every training session. Paul Barron's been great – he's doing a great job. I'm just working really hard to get my chance."

Soderberg, however, is yet to play a first-team game in England, be it at Newcastle or on loan, and a spell away from St James's Park is a possibility in the future.

And the 20-year-old is learning every day from Barron and Krul, who faces Ukraine in the home leg of Holland's play-off tomorrow in Rotterdam night.

"Tim's got more experience than me," added Soderberg. "He's been playing, and I haven't made my debut yet.

"You learn from everybody. I like him very much, but I'm just hoping for my chance."

Krul and his Holland team-mates, meanwhile, face a gruelling flight to Kiev for the return leg on Tuesday night.