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Parker - I nearly didn`t play..

Scottish Mag

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Newcastle United's man of the moment Scott Parker has revealed that he came within a whisker of missing his Premiership debut for the club at Highbury on Sunday.


It's a long time since I saw such a committed debut from a Newcastle player and at times, especially when 10-man United were under pressure from Arsenal in the second half, Parker was throwing himself into tackles.


It was something which did not escape United's travelling Toon Army and Parker is sure to get a fantastic reception in Saturday's game with West Ham at St James' Park.


However, he revealed: "To tell the truth, I didn't train at all in the week leading up to Sunday's game because of a hamstring injury and that's why I missed our game with Bray Wanderers in Ireland.


"As a result, I was really doubtful for the Arsenal game and it wasn't until nine o'clock on Sunday morning that it was decided I would play.


"I know I didn't last the full 90 minutes but in the circumstances I was delighted at the way I came through after being away from the Premiership action for so long with a broken bone in my foot at Chelsea."


Unfortunately, Parker and United's other impressive new boy, Emre, got off to a losing start in the Premiership in a black-and-white shirt, mainly because blundering referee Steve Bennett had them down to 10 men for the last hour after his ludicrous sending-off of Jenas.


Parker added: "There is no doubt the referee made a rick, which was a pity, really, considering the way things were going for us before JJ was sent off. At no time did I ever think it was a sending-off offence.


"Yet even when we were down to 10 men I thought we looked solid and I really believed we would hang on for what would have been a great point.


"I know that a lot of people have said that they did not think it was a penalty when Freddie Ljungberg went down after the challenge from Charles N'Zogbia but, to be fair to the referee, from where I was I thought straight away it was a penalty."


An exhausted Parker came off after Thierry Henry had slotted away the spot-kick and when I came across him after the match he was sitting in his full strip in the Highbury tunnel and could hardly drag himself out for the warm-down.


Like the rest of the United first-team squad, Parker was given yesterday off and he stayed down in London with his family.


But he flew back up last night and was in for training today with those of his colleagues not on international duty.


However, many more performances like that on Sunday and Parker can expect another call from Sven-Goran Eriksson, with the England coach having been an interested spectator at Highbury.

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