STEVEN Taylor can roll back the years at Newcastle United – and fulfil the potential he was showing as a raw prospect.
Taylor, pictured, made a match-winning contribution in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Birmingham City.
The defender’s headed goal late in the first half turned out to be the winner, but manager Alan Pardew was as impressed with his defending as he was with his forays upfield.
And Pardew’s is intent on him rediscovering the form that made him a regular in Newcastle’s defence early in his career, and saw him earn the England Under-21 captaincy.
The 25-year-old – who has made 185 appearances for the club – has been beset by injuries over the past 17 months, but he’s now fully fit, and ready for United’s final two games against Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Pardew said. “If I was marking him I’d give him an eight out of ten.
“I liked his assurance and focus. He was on his game, and when the ball came, he attacked it.
“I’ve worked hard with Steven to make sure that next year that he’s ready to put in a season that his potential, three or four years ago, was suggesting. I think he can.”
Taylor’s opportunity came in the absence of Mike Williamson through injury, the centre-half having broken a bone in his forearm in training last week.
The 27-year-old needed an operation, and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Williamson has been outstanding in his first season in the Premier League, and coupled with the experienced Fabricio Coloccini, Pardew doesn’t think there’s much wrong with his central defensive options.
“They both got in the side through injury or suspension,” Pardew went on.
“Steven got in the team just before I arrived through Mike’s suspension. When Steven got injured, Mike got back in and held his place.
“Fair play to the big fella for that, but Steven Taylor’s desperate to play. We’ve changed his training programme, and he looks better for it now.
“We’ve got two centre halves and an experienced one in Coloccini. It’s a strong area for us.”