RYAN Taylor could still have a say in Newcastle United’s season.
Taylor suffered a cruciate ligament injury in August, but could be back on the training field next month after a punishing few months of rehabilitation.
Taylor was a revelation last season as a makeshift left-back.
And the Liverpudlian wrote himself into Geordie folklore with his stunning free-kick winner against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in August 2011.
Taylor – whose career at St James’s Park up to then had largely been spent on the bench – was handed a new contract in recognition for his efforts on the field.
However, this season has been one of frustration, though the 28-year-old can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
And United manager Alan Pardew is looking forward to having Taylor back in his squad, and he’s keen for him to make his comeback before the end of the campaign.
“I spoke to him this week,” Pardew told the Gazette. “He’ll possibly be back next month, with a bit of luck.
“I think it’s important for players like Ryan, who have had an injury like that, to get a game or two in before the season ends. I think he’s got a possibility of that.”
Newcastle’s squad is significantly stronger than it was at the start of the season – the club signed five players last month – and Taylor will find it hard to break back into Pardew’s side.
Davide Santon is now United’s first-choice left-back, while new boy Massadio Haidara impressed on his debut in last week’s 1-0 win over Metalist Kharkiv.
“He’s coming into competition,” admitted Pardew. “Santon’s improved this year. Also Massadio’s come in. He’s got a bit of work to do on that side of the pitch.”
However, right-footed Taylor’s versatility – and his ability at set-pieces – means he will always be in and around Pardew’s team.
And Pardew believes he is as good as Yohan Cabaye – set to captain Newcastle against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon – in dead-ball situations.
“You know with Ryan, that delivery he has with that right foot is at a different level,” said Pardew. “He’s as good as Cabaye, if not better, from dead balls, so he’ll always be in and around my team.”
For his part, Taylor is hoping to be available for the Tyne-Wear derby on April 13.
“I’m about five and a half months intro my rehab, so there’s hopefully not much longer left,” he said last month.
“I haven’t really got a date or game in mind, but one game I’d love to be back for is the derby, and it’s a realistic target to be aiming for that.
“I’d love to be in contention for that game, but I’ve just got to see how the next few weeks go.”