Ryan Taylor and James Perch

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Ryan Taylor is pleased that Newcastle's squad now has a stronger look to it - even though it means it will be more difficult for him to force his way back into Alan Pardew's side.

The Merseysider stepped up his recovery from a long-term knee injury in Lisbon as he trained with the rest of the team at the Estadio da Luz last week, and is closing in on a return to action.

He hopes to play again before the end of the season but in the meantime, he's been watching closely as the team struggled midway through the season before the arrival of new faces in January.

Players like Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Mathieu Debuchy and Massadio Haidara have all made an instant impact to help United climb the table and reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they face Benfica in the second leg on Thursday.

And Taylor told nufc.co.uk: "They haven't just made a difference to the team, I think they've just helped the dressing room as well.

"They've given the whole Club a lift and you look at the bench now and it looks a lot stronger. If we need players to come on we've got reliable players to come on, with experience.

"As a squad, it just looks so much better than what it did around that Christmas period with all the injuries and stuff, and they (the injured players) have came back as well.

"There are some really good signings in there. Sissoko looks awesome and Mapou has done very well, while Yoan Gouffran looks a talent.

"You look at the signings and they all look really, really useful and they've been great additions to the squad.

"I think I won't be the only one to say it but I welcome them to the Club and I'm glad they're doing really well because things are looking a lot better than they did a few weeks ago."

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