Taylor targets regular spot
The Argentinian and the former Portsmouth man have spent much of the season together at the heart of the Magpies defence and have performed admirably in tandem with full-backs Danny Simpson and Jose Enrique to give Alan Pardew's side a firm foundation. Taylor has been a frustrated bystander for much of the campaign, sitting out the opening months as he recovered from a shoulder problem and then finding himself sidelined by a hamstring injury in January. However, he has made an eye-catching return to the starting line-up in the wake of Williamson's broken arm in the last two games, in which he has served up reminders of both his defensive resilience and the threat he poses in the opposition penalty area with goals against Birmingham and Chelsea. Having re-established himself in the team ahead of Sunday's final-day clash with West Brom, the Greenwich-born, Geordie-bred defender is in no mood to step aside. Asked how determined he is to hang onto the shirt, 25-year-old Taylor said: "Too right, that's what I want. "I have always had competition since I was a 16-year-old lad coming into the reserves. "I remember seeing there were seven centre-halves in front of me at the time. I got past all of them and that's where I want to be right now. "The manager makes the decisions and it is up to him what he does. At the end of the day, myself, Coloccini and Williamson are options for him." Taylor emerged from the ranks at St James' Park and forced his way into the senior picture as a teenager, making his debut under former boss Sir Bobby Robson as a substitute in a UEFA Cup victory over Real Mallorca in March 2004. But it was during 2006-07 that he became a regular and produced the kind of displays which took him into the England Under-21s and eventually saw him leading his country into battle. However, injuries have proved something of an occupational hazard for Taylor in recent seasons with shoulder dislocations in particular - as well as a difference of opinion with then team-mate Andy Carroll - costing him too much football for his own liking. In that respect, he is delighted to be back fit and raring to go, and he is grateful to manager Alan Pardew for how he has handled his situation. He said: "It's all about training every day and just waiting for your chance, more than anything. "The gaffer didn't rush me back. He has done really well for me, but just to get my chance is great now." Taylor's return could hardly have gone more perfectly with his first-half header securing the 2-1 victory over Birmingham which ultimately ensured the club's place in the Barclays Premier League for next season. He celebrated with an energetic sprint up the touchline, just as he did in November 2006 after his UEFA Cup winner against Celta Vigo, although his late equaliser at Chelsea last Sunday brought a more restrained reaction. He said: "My Celta Vigo goal was celebrated down the other touchline. I did the other side, so there will be no more of that anymore. "It will be just a basic jump in the air and celebrate with my team-mates."