Steve McClaren says Steven Taylor is firmly in his plans – despite axing him for Newcastle United’s season-opener.
Chancel Mbemba was preferred to Taylor at centre-half for last weekend’s Premier League game against Southampton, which ended 2-2.
I like Steven – I’ve known him from a young kid ... great enthusiasm, a true defender of the old school.Steve McClaren
Mbemba, signed from Anderlecht last month, was paired with captain Fabricio Coloccini, who missed all of the club’s pre-season games with an Achilles problem.
Long-serving Taylor is looking to put the injury problems which have blighted him in recent years behind him.
The 29-year-old is fully fit, having recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
And head coach McClaren – who gave Taylor an England call-up during his time in charge of the national team – feels his “old school” defending will be important to his new-look Newcastle side, who take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Asked about his importance to United, McClaren said: “Keep him fit, tremendous.
“He’s come back and I don’t think he’s missed many days training. We’re easing him in.
“I like Steven – I’ve known him from a young kid ... great enthusiasm, a true defender of the old school.”
McClaren – who has been drawing on the experience of what he has called a “senior leadership group at United – also believes “vocal” Taylor will be an important figure off the pitch at St James’s Park.
“He’s a leader,” said McClaren. “He’s very vocal, very passionate about the shirt, and (that’s) something you want in the dressing room, and especially somebody you want fit.”