By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Steven Taylor is among the Newcastle United party which arrived in eastern Germany on Thursday night, and manager Alan Pardew is delighted to have the defender back in his ranks.
Taylor has been sidelined for the past seven months with a ruptured Achilles which required surgery, but following plenty of hard graft over the summer months the Academy graduate is back kicking a ball again and almost ready for selection.
A niggle looks likely to sideline the centre-back for Friday's opening friendly against local third division side Chemnitzer, but Pardew admitted: "Steven has trained the whole summer and looks fantastic.
"At the moment he has a slight hamstring strain, which I'm okay about because it's not his original injury - that's been absolutely perfect.
"It's a question now of him toning his body and making sure we get a full season out of Steven, because last year and the season before this Club hasn't had many full seasons out of him, and we are aware of that.
"So the medical staff will keep a very close eye on him, we will watch him training and try to protect him to get him through the season."