The Achilles injury he suffered against Chelsea last December meant it was always going to be a tough route back but one thing you can never doubt with Taylor is his attitude and the manager and physios have been quick to praise him on that front.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Alan Pardew made clear that physically, Taylor is coming back really strong but that he will be looking to chop and change at centre-back to get the best out of his centre-backs.
“He’s fine – that’s the really good news. It’s a slight hamstring tweak – it’s nothing.
He’s got plenty of time – he’s fit. He’s double fit. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in.
Physically, for him, pre-season’s a non-event. Mentally, he needs to get himself back in order.
I think there’s a lot of pressure on Steven, and he understands that.
We’ve really looked closely at him in terms of protecting him a little bit more than last year”.
Interviewed at the end of last season, Alan Pardew stated as fact that he was going to bring in a powerful centre-half to complement what we already have at the club and the recent offer for FC Twente’s Douglas underlines that.
With the manager making clear that they will be looking not to play Steven Taylor every match, it becomes clear that another centre-half isn’t a priority, it’s a necessity.
With an extra defender approaching Coloccini and Taylor’s kind of quality, we may have enough to be comfortable at that position with Williamson in fourth choice if needed.
By rotating at the back it will help to avoid possible injuries brought about by playing players when not 100%, which undoubtedly was the case at times last season and we just about got away with it.
You might not be able to legislate for an injury like Taylor’s but when we lost both him and Fabricio Coloccini in that one match against Chelsea, maybe it was no coincidence.
With the extra demands of the Europa League it would mean walking a tightrope if at least one more central defender is not brought in.
I know it was only a friendly against Monaco but I wouldn’t fancy seeing Simpson and Williamson lining up at centre-back in the Premier League any time soon.