Patient Taylor must wait for his chance
AFTER enduring an injury-plagued season, Newcastle defender Steven Taylor is already looking forward to the next campaign, but admits he will have to be patient in his quest for more first-team starts. Taylor , who signed a new five-and-a-half-year deal with the club before Christmas, has made just 11 Premier League appearances this term after suffering a spate of injuries. In his absence, Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson have formed a sturdy partnership at the heart of a Magpies' defence that has impressed in their first season back in the top flight. The defender has returned to the starting line-up recently when Coloccini was deployed in a midfield role to cover for the suspended Kevin Nolan and Cheik Tiote, but he has found himself back on the bench in the last two games. The Greenwich-born centre-back understands he will have to be patient, but admits he is just happy to be over the injuries which have kept him out. "It's a massive weight off your shoulders more than anything," Taylor said. "I'm over my injuries now and I'm just staying fit and keep myself ticking over. At the moment I'm probably lasting about 60 minutes on the pitch, it's just lack of practice which makes it difficult when you're coming back from time out through injury. "I'm already looking forward to pre-season and hopefully I can kick on next season. "I want to get back in there but it's up to the gaffer what he does. Mike and Fabricio have done a great job this season so there's a lot of competition, but I'm just looking forward to getting fit pre-season." Last weekend's draw at Blackpool almost assured the Tynesiders' place in the Premier League with Alan Pardew's side now ninth. If they can finish in the top-ten, the Magpies will surprise many who predicted they would be part of the relegation dog-fight. "I think at the start of the season many people thought we'd be in the relegation fight but we've proved people wrong," added Taylor. "We've really kicked on and I think the best thing that's happened to Newcastle was getting relegated. "If we can get a few more points and finish on a high it will give everyone confidence going into next season. We want to finish as high as we can and the players are obviously playing for their places as well." On Sunday, Newcastle face Liverpool who have lost just one of their last six league games, while the Magpies hope to record their first win at Anfield since April 1994. Kenny Dalglish's side could feature former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll and Taylor knows he will pose a real threat should he play. "Andy was here since he was a young lad and it'll be a big day for him," Taylor said. "He's done fantastic for Newcastle, he scored some great goals for us this season and of course against Liverpool, but it'll be a good moment for him to play against us and for the lads too because we used to train and play with him. "He's fantastic in the air and wins everything but I think they've got quality all over the place. "I think 1994 is the last time we beat them there and it's always a tough place to go but we did well at St James' Park against them and as long as we look after ourselves and play like we have been we'll always have a chance of getting something." Meanwhile, Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan has revealed he is close to signing a new contract. He has lead the side by example this season, contributing 12 goals from midfield, and it seems the 28-year-old is keen to sign sooner rather than later. Nolan said: "Negotiations are at an advanced stage. Most things have been agreed and I would think I will sign next week or the week after. "The gaffer and the board have been great about it. It's almost done and dusted. I want the whole thing over and done with because, until I sign, everyone is going to be asking me about it." Pardew who is also hoping to tie Nolan's team-mate and close friend Joey Barton to a new contract, after the former Manchester City man revealed he would sign an extension if his captain did.
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