ANDREW Taylor will tonight hope to take a big step towards a dream trip to Wembley.
The Hartlepool-born footballer will be in the Cardiff side at Crystal Palace for the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.
And Taylor hopes a good display in South London will help them return to the north of the capital next month.
The winners of the all-Championship tie will meet one of the Barclays Premier League giants in the final, with Man City taking on Liverpool in a mouth-watering last-four clash.
Taylor says excitement is mounting in the Welsh camp.
“A lot of people disregard the Carling Cup, especially at our level because they don’t think they have a chance of winning it,” said the 24-year-old.
“But you can see that ourselves and Crystal Palace have a fantastic opportunity now of reaching a major final and playing at Wembley.
“The way the draw has turned out it couldn’t have worked out better for both clubs.
“We won’t have a better chance of reaching a major final.”
Taylor is not short of big-match exposure.
He has represented his country at every youth level and played for the England U21 side, coming home from Euro 2009 with a silver medal.
During his Boro days, he played all the top sides in the Premier League, as well as an FA Cup semi-final against West Ham and the same stage of the UEFA Cup.
Taylor was in the Boro team which achieved an incredible great escape win over Steaua Bucharest in their European semi, though he was not involved in the final defeat by Sevilla in Eindhoven.
“This tie is up there with the biggest games I’ve played when I was at Middlesbrough,” he told SportMail.
“Aside from the international games I played, those are the two biggest club matches.
“To get the chance of playing at Wembley against one of the top two teams, Man City or Liverpool, in a major final in front of a full house would be incredible.
“I’m sure that doesn’t just go for me, but the players from us and Crystal Palace.
“It’s great for the championship as well. It shows how good the standard is in our division.”
Cardiff already boast a win over Palace this season, goals by Kenny Miller and Peter Whittingham giving them a 2-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium.
However, Taylor believes the November meeting in Wales will have little relevance this evening.
“We beat them 2-0 at home, but they are a decent side. They were up in third or fourth at one stage not that long ago,” he said.
“But what’s happened then has gone – I think it’s all about who handles the situation best.
“There are a lot of players on both sides who won’t have been in this position before, a semi-final of a major competition.
“I think it will be who deals with the situation and pressure over the two legs the best who will come through.”