STEVEN Taylor is hoping his run of injuries is finally behind him – and a long run in Newcastle United’s side is ahead of him.
The defender has started the club’s last four games after recovering from a hamstring problem.
And the 27-year-old – whose career has been beset by injuries in recent seasons – wants to play every game he can between now and the end of the campaign.
However, United manager Alan Pardew, mindful of Sunday’s domestic home game against Southampton, has decisions to make on his team for tomorrow’s Europa League fixture against Metalist Kharkiv.
Pardew has vowed not to over-play Taylor given his wretched luck with injuries, and the former England Under-21 captain is a candidate to be rested in the second leg of the Round of 32 tie.
For his part, Taylor – whose first appearance for the club came in Europe almost nine years ago – is ready and willing to play in the Ukraine.
“I feel good and fresh,” Taylor said. “It’s just what I wanted – getting out there and playing games.
“It’s given me confidence. I’m feeling good and training hard. We just want to get more wins now.
“There are a lot of games now, which is great for me. I just want to keep going to the end of the season.
“We’ll have a strong team out (against Metalist), and we’ll give it a good go.
“We want to go as far as we can in this competition.”
Taylor’s return to fitness – and his unsettled defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini’s decision to stay at the club until at least the summer – have coincided with an upturn in fortunes for relegation-threatened Newcastle.
Back to back wins over Chelsea and Aston Villa were followed by a narrow defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
Last week’s first-leg against Kharkiv at St James’s Park ended goalless.
And Taylor and Coloccini will again have to be at their best at the Metalist Stadium, with Myron Markevich’s footballing side having impressed on Tyneside.
Their understanding in the centre of defence was pivotal to United’s impressive start to last season, with the pair’s contrasting styles complementing each other in the heart of Pardew’s back four.
“We’ve got a great understanding together – he’s a great player,” said Taylor, who missed half of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“We know each others strengths and weaknesses. I think that showed (in the first leg).
“The gaffer, JC (John Carver) and Stoney (Steve Stone) work on it a lot. They’re always trying to surround us with attackers. We’ve got to cope with that, and I think that showed.
“The more times we play together, the better understanding we can get as a defence.
“I thought Mapou (Yanga-Mbiwa) was fantastic on his debut.”