STEVEN Taylor’s vowed to “knuckle down” at Newcastle United – and force his way back into Alan Pardew’s side.
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 told the Gazette. “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 (this afternoon).
“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.”
Taylor asked to play in the Under-21 Premier League game against Norwich.
He added: “Myself, Jonas and (Paul) Dummett as well, you come to these pitches, and they are a bit boggy but you get on with it.
“When I was coming through my ranks, this is where I started, so it was a good workout for myself.”
Taylor suffered a hamstring injury in training after serving a three-match ban for catching City’s Sergio Aguero with his forearm.
He has been fit for almost two months, but is yet to make the bench.
“The suspension was a big killer, but I’ve come back now,” said Taylor. “For six, seven or eight weeks now I’ve been ready and feeling good. That’s all I can do. I’m ready and fit for selection.”
Meanwhile, Gutierrez, captain Gael Bigirimana and substitute Jonathyn Quinn were on target for United against Norwich, who scored an own goal. Kevin Mbabu left Whitley Park on crutches after suffering a foot injury.