ALAN Pardew has called for Steven Taylor to be handed an England recall – because he believes he belongs with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the “new breed” of top class English centre-halves.
After two years of intense injury frustration Taylor has returned to his best form under Pardew’s tutelage, extending the excellent run at the end of last season into the first five games of this campaign.
Taylor was Newcastle’s man of the match in front of the watching England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce and likely next Three Lions chief Harry Redknapp at Loftus Road on Monday, prompting Pardew to call for his inclusion in the run up to Euro 2012.
While the United boss is aware that the rise of Jones, Smalling and Bolton’s Gary Cahill makes it a competitive position to break into the national team set-up, he feels Taylor deserves a chance.
“I would put (Steven Taylor) in with the top centre-halves. I think Terry and Ferdinand have been absolutely outstanding but now there is a new batch coming through and Steven should be in that batch.
“I am not saying he should be a starter but I think he should certainly be in that batch.”
It is a personal triumph for the boss too, for Pardew has played a central role in the renaissance of the Academy graduate. The defender was deadlocked on his contract and available for transfer when Pardew took over but within weeks a new long-term deal was agreed and Taylor was back in the first team picture.
Another shoulder injury saw him on the sidelines until the Spring but when he did return it was noticeably more slim-line Taylor who returned – with immediately positive results.
“I am really pleased (for Steven) and I genuinely feel that our two centre-halves have been the two stand out players for us this season,” he said.
“One is our new captain and you have to wonder how he does not get a game for his country for the way he has been performing. And then you have Steven Taylor, who has come back to form in my view with a trimmer body and he is a better player for that.
“I thought he got a little bit carried away with building up his upper body using weights. He now looks quicker and sharper. With Steven, the only question mark is ‘Can he do a full campaign?’
“I do not think there has ever been any doubt about his ability. He has proved that but it is now about staying in that position for a campaign. But centre-halves are always in their best years at 27 or 28. It is not a position when you are at your best at 23 or 24. With strikers, sometimes it is different. Michael Owen is a case in point because his better years were 17 to 22.
“With a centre-half, that is never going to be the case. You need to have that experience and that ability to read the game. You need to learn the tricks of how strikers bump into you and put you off balance in order to manoeuvre you around. Steven copes very well with all different types of striker.”
Pardew also backed Taylor’s future claims for captaincy, but said that it was too early for him this summer.
“No, not tempted to give him it. But down the line, he is someone I would like to think will be a Newcastle manager,” he said.
“I think he has a real affinity with the city, the fans and that is important but you also have to be a very good player and Steven Taylor is certainly that as well.
“He will probably have that opportunity somewhere down the line but not at the moment. It is all about Steven himself, he is determined to get his career back on track.
“He has gone through injuries and everything else but now, he does not make any errors and his concentration levels are really very, very good. That is all down to himself.”