Newcastle United Vs West Bromwich Albion, Sun 22 May 2011

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Newcastle defender Steven Taylor has warned Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson he has no intention of sitting on the bench next season.

The Argentinian and the former Portsmouth man have spent much of the season together at the heart of the Magpies defence and have performed admirably in tandem with full-backs Danny Simpson and Jose Enrique to give Alan Pardew's side a firm foundation.

Taylor has been a frustrated bystander for much of the campaign, sitting out the opening months as he recovered from a shoulder problem and then finding himself sidelined by a hamstring injury in January.

However, he has made an eye-catching return to the starting line-up in the wake of Williamson's broken arm in the last two games, in which he has served up reminders of both his defensive resilience and the threat he poses in the opposition penalty area with goals against Birmingham and Chelsea.

Having re-established himself in the team ahead of the final-day clash with West Brom, the Greenwich-born, Geordie-bred defender is in no mood to step aside.

Asked how determined he is to hang onto the shirt, 25-year-old Taylor said: "Too right, that's what I want.

"I have always had competition since I was a 16-year-old lad coming into the reserves.

"I remember seeing there were seven centre-halves in front of me at the time. I got past all of them and that's where I want to be right now.

"The manager makes the decisions and it is up to him what he does. At the end of the day, myself, Coloccini and Williamson are options for him."

Taylor emerged from the ranks at St James' Park and forced his way into the senior picture as a teenager, making his debut under former boss Sir Bobby Robson as a substitute in a UEFA Cup victory over Real Mallorca in March 2004.

But it was during 2006-07 that he became a regular and produced the kind of displays which took him into the England Under-21s and eventually saw him leading his country into battle.


However, injuries have proved something of an occupational hazard for Taylor in recent seasons with shoulder dislocations in particular - as well as a difference of opinion with then team-mate Andy Carroll - costing him too much football for his own liking.

In that respect, he is delighted to be back fit and raring to go, and he is grateful to manager Alan Pardew for how he has handled his situation.

He said: "It's all about training every day and just waiting for your chance, more than anything.

"The gaffer didn't rush me back. He has done really well for me, but just to get my chance is great now."

West Brom head coach Roy Hodgson wants his team to end the season as the Midlands' top-ranked club.

The Baggies have not finished above all their Midlands rivals for 32 years but lead the way heading into the final round of the Barclays Premier League fixtures.

Albion are 11th and could finish as high as eighth if results go in their favour, a remarkable position for a team in relegation trouble when Hodgson took over in February.

Hodgson told the club's website, "We are less motivated by the thought that the players or the club, in terms of bonuses, might earn a little more money.

"We are motivated more by the fact we can finish in the highest possible league position and, in particular, finish above our midland rivals and be top dog in the Midlands for the first time in many years."

Aston Villa, who are just a point behind, are the only club from the region who can now overtake them.

But Hodgson, whose side travel to Newcastle, does not believe he can expect a favour from Villa's opponents, his former club Liverpool.

He added: "I think we need a result because Aston Villa are perfectly capable of getting a result in their home game. We can't rely on them losing.

"If they were to take a point and we lose they would pip us on goal difference, which would be disappointing.

"It is important we go up to Newcastle and try to get the win we need which would mean we are untouchable in our position.

"That is what we are trying for."

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West Bromwich Albion
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