STEVEN Taylor has been backed to force his way back into Newcastle United’s starting XI.
The long-serving defender has played just 45 minutes of football in an injury and suspension hit campaign.
But Taylor is now fully fit, and ready finally get his season up and running.
The 27-year-old, yet to feature on the bench since returning to training last month, was in the squad for this afternoon’s game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The form of Alan Pardew’s defence has, up to now, kept Taylor on the fringes of the squad.
But United manager Pardew says the former England Under-21 international has trained well in recent days.
And Taylor – who has made 236 career appearances for Newcastle – is patiently waiting for a chance.
“Steven’s a senior player at this football club,” Pardew said.
“He’s trained very well, and is looking better. Obviously, he wants to be involved.
“He’s in the squad. He’s travelled, and we’ll see.”
Taylor’s route to first-team football is blocked by the form of Mike Williamson, who has started United’s last eight Premier League games, latterly alongside fit-again captain Fabricio Coloccini.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa also impressed during Coloccini’s absence through injury.
Taylor was named in Pardew’s starting XI for the first game of the season away to Manchester City.
But he was dismissed late in the first half for catching Sergio Ageuro with his forearm, and he suffered a hamstring injury after serving a three-game ban.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s oldest player – 96-year-old Jack Shiel – passed away late last month in Ashington.
The centre-forward – who served the club between 1936 and 1938 – made one appearance for United.
Shiel went on to join Huddersfield Town before the Second World War interrupted his playing career. He served on Royal Navy minesweepers during the conflict.