Taylor closes in on Newcastle United comeback

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NEWCASTLE centre-back Steven Taylor will be fit for Liverpool’s visit to St James’s Park next weekend after almost a month on the sidelines.

And in another defensive lift for boss Alan Pardew, left-back Massadio Haidara will make his long-awaited comeback from injury tonight.

Taylor has been sidelined for the past few weeks with a hamstring problem, but Pardew expects the long-serving centre-half to be available for the Liverpool game on October 19. Asked if the international break would give Taylor extra time to work on his fitness, Pardew said: “Of course.”

Pardew was beset by a series of injuries last season as the Magpies battled at home and abroad. “So far, fingers crossed, we’ve come through relatively unscathed,” he added.

Taylor has managed just 48 minutes of competitive football this season.

The former England Under-21 cap started the first game of the season at Manchester City, but he was dismissed early in the second half of the 4-0 defeat after catching Sergio Aguero with his forearm.

Taylor returned to the bench against Aston Villa after serving a three-game ban, but then suffered an injury in training.

The challenge for Taylor now is to win his place back. Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa have partnered captain Fabricio Coloccini at the back in his absence.

Striker Shola Ameobi has also been sidelined in recent weeks with a knock, but he returned to fitness in time to be called up for Nigeria’s World Cup play-off against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Haidara – who has not made an appearance yet this season after being troubled by a knee problem which ruled him out of pre-season – is in the squad for cricketer Steve Harmison’s testimonial game at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane (7pm kick-off).

Harmison’s benefit game pits a Northumberland XI, featuring Durham colleagues Scott Borthwick and Phil Mustard, against a United side managed by John Carver, Pardew’s assistant boss.

Coaches Peter Beardsley, Steve Stone, Dave Watson and Kevin Richardson are also in the Newcastle squad, along with Gael Bigirimana and Adam Campbell.

The game, refereed by Premier League official Michael Oliver, will raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and PCA Benevolent Fund. Admission is £6 (adults) and £1.50 (concessions).

NEWCASTLE SQUAD: Mitchell, Tavernier, Gillesphey, Richardson, Watson, Streete, Stone, Beardsley, Campbell, Armstrong, Bigirimana, Haidara, Alnwick, Drennan, Quinn, Aarons.