RYAN Taylor’s closing in on his Newcastle United comeback.
Taylor has been sidelined since late August after rupturing his cruciate ligament in a Europa League tie.
But the 28-year-old – who was at the launch of the Newcastle United Foundation’s Hall of Fame this week – can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
The utility player hopes to be back in full training in three weeks.
And Taylor – who scored a stunning free-kick against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last season – could be back in contention for the Tyne-Wear derby at St James’s Park on April 14.
“It’s been quite a successful rehab – I’m about three weeks off full training,” Taylor said. “Then I’ll hopefully look to catch the back end of the season.
“The Sunderland game’s one that does catch the eye, but is it an unrealistic target? I don’t know. It’s touch and go.
“When I did it, if you’d said I’d have a chance of being back before the end of the season, I’d have snapped your hand off.
“It’s been down to pure hard work. I’ve got three weeks of hard work, and I’ll be buzzing to be back in.”
Taylor watched Newcastle’s defeat to his former club Wigan Athletic last weekend on TV.
And he was disgusted by the reckless tackle from Callum McManaman which injured team-mate Massadio Haidara.
Taylor was strident in his criticism of the challenge on Twitter, which went unpunished by match referee Mark Halsey – who was unsighted – and the Football Association, who were not able to take restrospective action as the tackle had been seen by the linesman.
Fortunately, left-back Haidara has escaped serious injury, and faces weeks rather than months on the sidelines.
“I was disappointed, and I wasn’t the only one, because you don’t want to see those tackles in the game,” said Taylor, who joined United from Wigan in 2009.
“If people are getting away with them, what does that tell you?
“The main thing now is to get Sadio fit. I’ve seen him, and he seems quite upbeat in himself. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon.”
Meanwhile, Taylor was among the first-team players to attend Wednesday night’s dinner at St James’s Park, which saw a number of former players and teams inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame along with the late Sir Bobby Robson.
Taylor grew up watching Kevin Keegan’s “Entertainers” side of the mid-1990s, which was honoured by the club along with the cup-winning team of the 1950s.
“It was an honour to be there, and see some of this football club’s legends,” said Taylor.
“I remember when Newcastle nearly won the league. You still see ‘The Entertainers’ team now on TV. I remember growing up watching them.
“It’s great to be a part of this football club with the history it’s got.”