Newcastle United: Steven Taylor’s England Call-Up is a Double-Edged Sword


Newcastle player Steven Taylor (Google Creative Commons)

Newcastle United central defender Steven Taylor was called up by England yesterday after a flurry of international drop-outs and could make his full debut against San Marino on Friday.

It was recognition of the Geordie defender by England manager Roy Hodgson for the fantastic performances he has turned in recently for the Magpies both in the Premier League and Europe. It came after the recalled Rio Ferdinand, Gary Cahill and Michael Dawson all pulled out the squad with injury; yet, nevertheless represents a great opportunity for the former U21 captain to stake his international claim ahead of next year’s World Cup in Brazil. The 27 year-old Geordie told the club press:

It’s a dream come true. I am so happy to have received a call-up to the full squad. It is every player’s ambition to represent their country and it is the greatest honour in professional football. If I am lucky enough to be given that chance over the next seven days, it will be one of the proudest moments of my playing career.”

Taylor has had a torrid time with injury in the past two seasons, but when fully fit is among the very best in the business. That is at centre-half, of course, and not midfield, as it was revealed yesterday that former England boss Fabio Capello mistakenly thought Taylor was a midfielder and thus overlooked him. The worry for Newcastle fans is that after missing the majority of the last two seasons with injury, Taylor’s all-action style might lead to further damage if over-played.

Make no mistake about it, however, a fully-fit Taylor is the natural successor for John Terry in the heart of England’s defence and a real asset at set-pieces. At U21 level, Taylor played a total of 29 times, scoring four goals and memorably blasted in a penalty while barely able to walk against Holland in a penalty shoot-out in 2007. It was typical of the heroism that defines the Geordie, who is a throwback to brave, body-on-the-line old school defenders. It is not an uncommon sight to see Taylor putting his head where others fear to tread as his diving header at the feet of Samuel Eto’o against Anzhi last Thursday night testified.

His game is based on pace, strength, fantastic heading and proper defending, as well as last-gasp tackles, blocks and off-the-line clearances. It would be a long overdue first England cap; although with his home-town club on the brink of another injury crisis after the weekend and Haidaragate, returning to the North-East fit is the priority for Newcastle fans.

Internationals and Injuries

No fewer than 12 players on Newcastle’s books have been selected to represent their country, including youth players, during this international weekend. Two, Mathieu Debuchy (France) and Davide Santon (Italy), have already been ruled out with injury.

Yohan Cabaye is not expected to play for France in their friendly versus Georgia and is a doubt for their qualifier against Spain. Club-mates Mapou Yanga-M’biwa and Moussa Sissoko could both feature.

Papiss Cisse (Senegal) and Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast) are expected to play in their nation’s World Cup qualifiers against Angola and Gambia, respectively.

Shane Ferguson, currently on loan at Birmingham, is in the Northern Ireland squad to face Russia and Israel in two crucial World Cup qualifiers in Belfast.

2 Comments on "Newcastle United: Steven Taylor’s England Call-Up is a Double-Edged Sword"

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  1. Johnny says:

    I think he is better than a stop-gap…

    As he left the St James’ Park pitch, the ball-boy would sneakily grab a tuft of grass for his back pocket. It was Steven Taylor’s way of making sure he always had a memory of Newcastle in case he didn’t make it as a professional. Now, Taylor could move from stand to England's future.

  2. Stuart Latimer Stuart Latimer says:

    I know he is - "Make no mistake about it, however, a fully-fit Taylor is the natural successor for John Terry in the heart of England’s defence". Great article that, cheers, hopefully a first cap tonight will be the start of the Geordie Generation replacing the Golden Generration as we approach World Cup 2014 and beyond…

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