It will be a massive boost for Alan Pardew’s plans if Steven Taylor can return to full fitness AND the form he showed before his serious injury in that farcical Chelsea match.

Taylor and Coloccini were proving an outstanding partnership and before that Chelsea encounter the defence had only conceded 12 goals in 13 matches.

That was the solid foundation which gave the impetus for the excellent season we enjoyed. People like to rewrite history but in truth many of those early matches were a real struggle and it was only really when Demba Ba got fully into his stride that Newcastle showed any great enterprise going forward.

It has been a long road back to fitness but Taylor is getting there and when he spoke to the club’s official website it sounds like the Physios’ tough love is paying dividends;

“I’m feeling good at the moment and I’ve just got to keep on going. I’m going away with Derek (Wright – NUFC Physio) for five days so we can work on my fitness in the heat, and I’ve no doubt he’ll run me into the ground.

We’re into the final stages now and I’ll be happy once all this running is finished. He trains me like he’s Rocky Balboa’s trainer and only lets me stop once I’ve collapsed on the floor!

In footballing terms, we’re into added-on time with the injury now and I just have to keep going. It’s sometimes like a 93rd minute run back from a corner, but you know you have to do it.

Hopefully, come pre-season, I’m going to be a little bit ahead of the rest of the lads fitness-wise. I won’t push myself too hard the first week back, but I will be like an excited kid in a sweet shop because I’ve missed playing so much”.

I have no doubts that Steven Taylor is automatic first choice in our current squad alongside the captain. I also don’t believe for one minute that Alan Pardew thinks any different, despite the morale boosting comments in the past for Mike Williamson.

The manager as ever showing canny man management skill with his words having the dual purpose of also reminding Taylor he has to make sure he puts the work in to deserve his place.

I look forward to seeing Rocky Taylor back on the pitch, at the heart of the defence with his chest stuck out.

Some call it cockiness but the reality is that Steven Vincent Taylor exudes self-confidence and you can’t have too much of that in a football team with aspirations.

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