Pardew sets Taylor challenge
Alan Pardew has challenged Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor to maintain his fitness.
Last Updated: 06/05/11 9:33am
Alan Pardew has challenged Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor to maintain his fitness and prove he can be an England player.
Taylor has endured a fitful season for the Magpies and has been restricted to just nine starts in the Premier League.
He has been unable to dislodge centre-halves Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini on a regular basis, but will be given a chance to impress in the final three games of the season.
Williamson suffered a broken arm in training on Thursday and Taylor is set to come into the team to partner Coloccini against Birmingham City on Saturday.
Pardew feels the 25-year-old has been unfortunate at times this season and has urged the former England Under 21 captain to demonstrate he can secure a senior call-up.
"Steve had a fantastic younger part of his career and then he's hit a bit of levelling-off when he's not gone forward or backwards," said the Newcastle manager.
"That can be dangerous for a player. He needs to get his career moving in the right direction again.
"He's a young centre-half with tremendous qualities and he must have the mentality to use those.
"He was a bit unfortunate when he first came back into the team because he ended up playing in a couple of positions that weren't his favoured one.
"I wanted to see what he could offer at right-back but now he's back playing in his natural position.
"We've changed his training programme and his diet because he was getting too muscular on top.
"We've tried to slim him down a little bit and he looks better for that. He looks quicker.
"Steve's got the technical ability to become an England player but to do that, you've got to be fit every week.
"Unfortunately his fitness and injuries have been a big issue and probably one of the reasons he's flattened out."