SOMETIMES, it is nice to be wanted, and after a number of years on the fringe of things at Newcastle United, Ryan Taylor is relishing being an integral part of Alan Pardew's plans.
In the wake of this month's 5-0 defeat at Tottenham, Pardew made a point of stating that Taylor's absence through injury had been as significant as the unavailability of Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote because of suspension and the Africa Cup of Nations respectively.
In previous years, the 27-year-old's failure to make the team would hardly have merited a mention. But after a season that has seen Taylor fail to start just four Premier League matches, performing a variety of roles including left-back, left midfielder, central midfielder and, most recently, right winger, his stock has never been higher. Back to full fitness after a brief lay off, he is set to find himself straight back in the team when Wolves visit St James' Park this weekend.
“It's nice to be missed,” said Taylor, who made just three league starts in the whole of last season. “On a personal note, I feel like this season I've been able to get a good run going and that's what I've needed.
“I've needed to try and establish myself, and to do that you need a run in the team. The gaffer has shown a lot of faith in me and when I've been playing I've tried to repay him with the effort and work I've put in for him.”
Taylor's importance has been enhanced in recent weeks because of his ability to slot into a variety of positions.
He spent the first half of the season at left-back in place of summer departee Jose Enrique, but has slotted seamlessly into midfield in recent weeks, performing the role he tended to fill at his previous club, Wigan Athletic.
“I don't think I'm ever going to shake off that versatility tag,” he said. “I did try! But I don't think it's ever going to happen.
“When I'm called upon, I'll always give everything I've got. It's nice to be in that fairly unique position of being able to play in a lot of different roles.
“Sometimes it works in your favour, sometimes it doesn't. There's obviously certain players who can't play in different positions. Demba (Ba) is a striker and a striker only, Colo (Fabricio Coloccini) is a centre-half, he's never going to play on the wing.
“Playing left-back, it sort of helps you as a right midfielder, because you know what a left-back hates so that's what you try to do. Hopefully, that works in your favour.”
* Newcastle's home game with Norwich City has been confirmed for Saturday, March 17 after the Canaries were knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend.