Ryan Taylor


By Tom Easterby

 

For Ryan Taylor, pulling on his burgundy United away shirt, stepping up and whipping a trademark free-kick into the Atromitos net must seem like a lifetime ago.

The 29-year-old's equaliser in Athens gave his side a slight advantage going into the second leg of their Europa League play-off in August 2012, but his joy was short lived; for in the return leg at St. James' Park, Taylor suffered a devastating knee injury that has kept him out of action ever since.

Now, as the versatile Scouser works ever closer to a return, he is adamant that the horrors of his last two injury-ravaged seasons are firmly in the past.

"It's been quite frustrating for me just watching in the last two seasons, but I'm just looking ahead now - what's gone in the past has gone," he told nufc.co.uk.

"I'll remember the good moments, and just try and forget about the bad moments, whether that be relegation or whether that be injury.

"I knew the first time was quite bad. Because I'd never had a knee problem before, I didn't really know what it was so I thought I could get back up and play, but the doc told me to sit on the stretcher, said 'let's go and examine you when we go inside', and I was able to sort of hobble off."

After a gruelling seven-month period of rehabilitation, Taylor suffered a demoralising setback in training. Another ruptured cruciate ligament meant another, longer spell on the sidelines.

"The second time, I didn't think it was (that serious) to be honest," he revealed.

"I tried to sort of brainwash myself, to convince myself that it wasn't because I'd just done seven months of rehab and then after day five of joining back in with the lads again, it snapped again."

"I'd like to put that to one side now, and look at where I'm at now and I'm almost back. I've got to focus on what I've got to do in these next few months and make sure I'm right come that time I can play again.

"My aim is just to get back on the pitch. I'm not thinking 'right, I want to nail down a place right now'. My aim - and I've only got one aim - is to get make sure I get back on the pitch.

"I've had some great days, I've had some bad days, but that's all in the past now."

With the start of the 2014/15 campaign closing in, the former Tranmere man's attentions are fully on the forthcoming season, when he hopes to return to the first-team picture - starting with pre-season training.

The amiable Taylor also paid tribute to the staff and players at the Club who are helping him through his injury nightmare, along with his supportive family.

"Any pre-season is really big for a professional footballer," he said.

"If you miss pre-season, you're playing catch up with the first team because your fitness isn't the same.

"What you get in pre-season, you can't buy that. You're just looking to get as fit and strong as you can and if you miss that, you're forever playing catch up and it shows come the tail end of the season when you're not as fit as the others.

"We've got some great staff here who have helped me massively. I've got a great wife, I've got a great son - I've got another one coming very soon, another little boy - so I've kept my mind occupied.

"I've got some great people around me and the good thing here is that the gym doesn't actually look out onto the training field, which kind of is a good thing for me because otherwise I'd probably spend half the day watching training.

"They (the players) have been fantastic, each and every one of them. They've always had some kind words to say and it's nice when you they come in from training and I'm in the gym or doing something really tough, some hard work and they come over and see how I'm getting on and watch what I'm doing.

"I'm sure they can see the work I've been putting in in at least the last six-to-eight months when I've had the new cruciate put in, and I'd like to think that the lads have been there for the whole time and been very supportive all the time."

Support has flooded in for Taylor via another avenue, too. A prominent presence on Twitter, his account currently has more than 129,000 followers and many supporters have wished the full-back well on his recovery - gestures that Taylor is extremely thankful for.

"I want to try and thank everyone for what they've done in the last two years and how supportive everyone's been," he said.

"Through social media, everyone's been great and a lot of people have been saying nice things and looking forward to when I'm back, so once I'm back I want to try and make up for that and show them how grateful that I've been.

"I don't even have to tweet about football, it could be about anything and the instant reply is 'we miss you, Over The Wall!' and things like that. It's nice, they never forget and that's a nice thing."

Ryan Taylor is wearing Newcastle United's new change strip for the 2014/15 campaign. Purchase yours now by clicking here.