STEVEN Taylor has vowed to “knuckle down” at Newcastle United – and force his way back into Alan Pardew’s side, writes Miles Starforth.
The injury and suspension-hit defender made his first appearance for the club in more than four months yesterday.
Taylor and fellow first-team player Jonas Gutierrez played 90 minutes for the Under-21s in their 4-1 win over Norwich City at Whitley Park.
Long-serving Taylor has played just 45 minutes of first-team football this season, and a spell on loan in the New Year had been mooted by his agent, Willie McKay.
But United manager Pardew this week insisted Taylor was going nowhere.
And Taylor is now focused on forcing his way back into Pardew’s starting XI after meeting with Pardew this week.
“I want to play football,” Taylor said. “I want to play as much football as I can.
“If I’m not going to get in the team, then obviously we’ll have to look at something else.
“But at this moment in time, the manager has come out and said that, so we will have to wait and see. Hopefully soon, I’ll be back in amongst it.
“I’ll wait to see what happens. The lads are playing at Crystal Palace.
“The main thing is that we win our games. We’ve got some massive games coming up.
“I’m delighted I got 90 minutes under my belt, so I just need to keep it going.
“It’s always great to play. The thing I love doing is playing football. That’s what I want to do.
“I felt good. I’ve just got to keep training, knuckle down and see what happens.”
Taylor, sent off in the club’s season-opener at Manchester City, finds his route to the first-team blocked by Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
However, he insists the competition for places in defence doesn’t faze him.
“At Newcastle, I’ve had competition all my career,” he said. “I thrive on that, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. The manager makes a decision, and you’ve just got to accept that.
“I need to keep working hard and knuckling down.”
Meanwhile, Alan Pardew says he doesn’t know if he’s come close to losing his job at Newcastle United – but he feels he earned the chance to right the wrongs of last season.
This month has seen Andre Villas-Boas, Martin Jol and Steve Clarke dismissed by their clubs.
And Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay, Pardew’s close friend, has reportedly been told to resign – or lose his job. Pardew could have become a managerial casualty in the summer.
There were calls for him to be dismissed at the end of a campaign which had seen the club only narrowly avoid relegation.
But United owner Mike Ashley – who had handed Pardew an eight-year contract early in the season – kept faith with him.
Pardew felt he had earned that show of faith, having guided the club to a fifth-placed finish the previous year.
And it’s so far, so good for Newcastle this season, with the club again challenging for a European place.
“All managers want that, but sometimes you’ve got to earn it – that little bit of time – to a degree,” Pardew said.
“Maybe I earned it the year before when we finished fifth.
“I had a few rocky times last year, but got the nod to stay on.
“You never know how close to come as a manager (to the sack). You just try and focus on the next result. That’s all I’ve ever done.”