James Tavernier pushing for more first-team action with NUFC

ORLANDO, UNITED STATES - JULY 23: James Tavernier of Newcastle eludes Jamie Watson during a Pre-season friendly match between Orlando City and Newcastle United at the Citrus Bowl on July 23, 2011 in Orlando, USA. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, UNITED STATES - JULY 23: James Tavernier of Newcastle eludes Jamie Watson during a Pre-season friendly match between Orlando City and Newcastle United at the Citrus Bowl on July 23, 2011 in Orlando, USA. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United via Getty Images)
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JAMES Tavernier is determined to force his way into Alan Pardew’s plans - using his versatility as a strength.

The 20-year-old committed his long-term future to Newcastle United in the summer after a series of loan spells away from Tyneside.

And the defender is keen to stake a claim for a regular place at St James’s Park.

With Ryan Taylor out for several months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, and Danny Simpson sidelined with a hamstring problem in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, Tavernier, Tavernier is that much closer to a Premier League debut.

Tavernier played in Newcastle’s two-legged Europa League qualifier against Atromitos, and with the club having six group stage fixtures in the competition, there will be more opportunities for the Bradford-born player.

“The main aim is to get a starting XI spot,” Tavernier said.

“I want to be a Premier League starter for Newcastle. That’s my aim - to work hard and give the manager a headache.

“I’m waiting for my chance, and when the time comes, hopefully I’ll take it.

“That was the main aim - to have a really good pre-season and be in the frame to be in the manager’s thoughts for the European games, and the other games which might come up.

“I’ve been involved twice now, so hopefully I’m still impressing and can be involved in more and more games.”

Tavernier, a pacy, athletic player who impressed in his loan spells at MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle United and Gateshead, is best known as a right-back, but Pardew said in pre-season he can see him playing more in the centre of defence.

With injuries having decimated Pardew’s options at right-back, where Vurnon Anita is likely to play against Everton, Tavernier’s versatility could prove invaluable.

“I’m comfortable in all positions - left-back, centre-back and right-back,” he added.

“I’ll work hard in all the positions that I can play, and I’m ready to play wherever the gaffer wants me. It’s just a matter of getting my chance in the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, United’s home games against Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion have been put back to Sunday kick-offs because of the club’s involvement in the Europa League.

The Norwich game will be played on September 23, and West Brom will visit St James’s Park on October 28 (both 3pm kick-offs).

Newcastle’s home game against West Ham United has already been put back to Sunday, November 11 (3pm).