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Tue, Oct

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Shaka Hislop is still ready to risk busting a gut as he prepares to face Newcastle, the club which gave him his Premiership break and where he twice went so close to winning the title.

Portsmouth's goalkeeper is playing on despite a nagging groin injury that he knows will one day almost certainly require a hernia operation.

But there is no way he is going to pass up the opportunity tomorrow to appear in front of the Toon Army at St James' Park, where he first tasted the big time.

The 34-year-old said: "The injury is getting no worse. The physios are doing a great job and I just have to make sure I get enough special exercises and rest in proper measure.

"I am just going to go, quite literally, from game to game. Why not? There is plenty of time for operations but I know it is not needed yet. I am staying strong.

"And I could never miss out on this match. I have been back to Newcastle three times since I left the club for West Ham and every game has been special but this will be my first trip there with Portsmouth.

"I succeeded Pavel Srnicek in goal at Newcastle and now he is on the staff at Portsmouth. When I moved to West Ham, Shay Given took over at St James' Park and now he is looking one of the best keepers around.

"But the club will always be in my heart because they gave me my chance in the Premiership when Kevin Keegan signed me from Reading.

"You can see signs of them coming into form again now. And Alan Shearer is looking as good as ever. He is one of the best players, if not the best, I have worked with in my career - a magnificent professional.

"His experience has been a huge asset to Newcastle. I know that like the rest of the staff there he is desperate to win a trophy this season and I would not mind seeing them do it.

"For me it would be ideal for us to go there and win but Newcastle ending up with some sort of trophy or at least getting into the Champions League again."