RYAN Taylor’s closing in on a return to action for Newcastle United - almost 22 months after last kicking a ball for the club.
The 29-year-old has twice ruptured the cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Taylor had two operations in the United States after suffering the second injury.
And the versatile player - who is working through the summer - could make a playing comeback in August.
But Taylor, having missed so much football through injury in his career, won’t cut any corners, despite his keenness to get back on the pitch.
“I’ll probably be running until late July, and maybe I’ll have my first game in August,” Taylor said.
“That’s the plan, if you like. We’ve got to stick rigidly to it and not cut any corners.
“The surgeons know what they’re doing. We’ve got to stick to that and hope it works out.
“It’s all power and strength in the gym, and then outside running and getting back kicking balls again.”
Taylor suffered first ruptured his cruciate ligament in a Europa League qualifier against Atromitos at St James’s Park in August 2012.
He suffered a recurrence in April last year - just as he was nearing a comeback.
And Taylor can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s been the same routine, more or less, for the last two years,” he said.
“I’m in for the rest of the summer trying to get ready for the first day of pre-season.”
United physio Derek Wright took Taylor to Portugal for some warm weather training - and a welcome change of scenery - last month.
And he trained alongside Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.
Rooney was doing some fitness work before meeting up with his England team-mates ahead of the World Cup.
Taylor has made 81 appearances - and scored 10 goals - for Newcastle since joining from Wigan Athletic in 2009.