IT’S a painful memory that Steven Taylor would rather forget.
There’s been joy for Taylor in his Newcastle United career, but he’s had his share of pain over the past year and a half.
While nothing will compare with the emotional agony of relegation, the defender would rather forget the club’s visit to Brunton Park 12 months ago.
Taylor made his comeback from a frustrating six-month spell on the sidelines with a knee problem against Carlisle United – only to dislocate his shoulder half an hour into the friendly.
The 25-year-old, set for his first appearance of the season at Darlington tonight (7.45pm kick-off), only returned to action last November, by which time Mike Williamson had forged a strong partnership in the centre of defence alongside Fabricio Coloccini.
However, Taylor – who went on to have another spell out with a hamstring problem – ended the campaign in Pardew’s side, and he’s hoping to be in the team for the Premier League season-opener against Arsenal at St James’s Park on August 13.
And a year on from the Carlisle game, Taylor is hoping he’s had his share of bad luck with injuries.
“Carlisle a year ago was my first game back,” Taylor said.
“I headed the ball for a corner and landed on my shoulder. It was so frustrating, but that’s behind me now. It’s history.
“I’m fit now, and just looking forward to the first game. That’s the main thing.
“Last season could have gone on longer – I didn’t want it to end. It was good to end the season in the team, but we were disappointed to draw the last game.
“The main thing is that we’re looking forward to the new season.
“I’ve put my injuries behind me, and I just want to help the team this season.
“Everyone’s looking forward to getting back out there for the Darlington game. There’s a great spirit among the lads, and we just want to get started.”
Taylor, like his team-mates, maintined his fitness over the summer months, and that helped him through the first few days back in training while Pardew’s squad were put through their paces.
Having been back for a week and a half, Taylor feels he and his colleagues are ready for their first game at the Northern Echo Arena, where they will be backed by well over 5,000 travelling fans.
“When I first started doing pre-seasons, some players would let themselves go over the summer, but that doesn’t happen now,” Taylor went on.
“Players look after themselves in the summer, and that’s so important, especially in the Premier League.
“They make sure they come back in good condition.
“If you keep yourself in good shape, it doesn’t take you so long to get back to full fitness.”