DANNY SIMPSON is nearing a return to full fitness, but Newcastle United’s James Tavernier is hoping to have done enough to stay in first team plans this season.
Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor have all been sidelined in recent weeks and that has opened the door for Tavernier to show his potential for the Magpies.
And the 20-year-old turned in his most impressive display so far for Newcastle on Wednesday, when his versatility had him used as both a left-back and right-back at different stages of the Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester United.
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Tavernier defended strongly who ever he was faced with at Old Trafford and he also showed a willingness to push forward and join in with the attacks.
With Coloccini back in the team after overcoming hamstring trouble and Simpson in with a chance of being fit for the trip to Reading tomorrow, Tavernier knows he could find himself out of the starting line-up.
But he is hoping to have shown manager Alan Pardew – who suggested it was the best the player had played for the club – that he should be considered more often.
Tavernier said: “I thought I had a really good game. I really enjoyed it. It’s great to start at Old Trafford and hopefully I’ve shown enough that I’ll be in the manager’s thoughts for the other games we’ve got coming up.
“There’s a lot of games coming up with all the European games and maybe my best chances are in the full-back positions. But if an opportunity comes at centre-back I’ll take it with both hands.
“I enjoy anywhere in defence.
I’m really comfortable in all positions, centre-back too. I feel like I’m a really versatile player and I really enjoy wherever I play.”
Tavernier’s two appearances this season have come in the Europa League – at Atromitos – and in the Capital One Cup.
He thinks the performances put in during cup competitions will help to convince the manager that the fringe men can hack it in the top-flight.
Tavernier said: “There’s a great spirit in the whole of the squad. We all fight for each other and play for each other.
We all get along in training and that’s what it’s all about.
“There’s no rivalry between the midweek team and the weekend one. Papiss Cisse played on Wednesday and he normally plays in the Premier League, and the defence was similar, so it’s not like two totally different teams. There’s no rivalry between us. We’re a great team together.
“This is a great opportunity for me to be involved and to have so many games is just a great experience of a different kind of football again. This will push me on to become a better player.”
Bradford-born Tavernier has worked hard to get to the first team stage after moving from Leeds as a 16-year-old.
He made his debut in the 2- 0 defeat at Peterborough United in the League Cup three years ago, since when he has had had loans at MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle and Gateshead, but he knows that Newcastle is where he wants to be.
“The loans helped me massively,” he said.
“When I went to Gateshead the season before last, that was kick-off for me.
“Those loans have really developed me as a player. I’ve learned a lot from the experiences.
“We were looking for the best clubs to match my football and coming from Gateshead up to League One, all the clubs I was at, really helped me as a player and developed different parts of my game.”