Steven Taylor makes his long-awaited comeback determined to be ready to fight on two fronts for Newcastle United.
Taylor made his debut in European competition more than eight years ago.
And the defender – who has been out since December after rupturing his Achilles – is relishing the club’s return to the continent.
Taylor is set to be involved in tonight’s friendly against Olympiakos on Portugal’s Algarve (kick-off 8.45pm) after successfully returning to training last week in Germany from a brief spell out with a hamstring problem.
The 26-year-old has reported no ill-effects since rejoining his team-mates on the practice field, and is expected to be named on the bench at the Algarve Stadium.
“I can’t wait to get out there and get started again – I’ve missed it so much,” Taylor told the Gazette.
“Everything’s going well. I’m just looking forward to getting out there.”
A two-legged Europa League qualifier next month stands between Newcastle and a place in the group stage of the competition.
Taylor came off the bench away to Real Mallorca to make his United debut under Sir Bobby Robson in March 2004, and the club regularly competed on the continent in the early part of his first-team career.
However, Newcastle went into a decline after the club’s last campaign in the UEFA Cup in 2006/07.
Taylor was in the squad which was relegated two years later, and the club’s renaissance was capped when, under Alan Pardew, it finished fifth in the Premier League last season to return to continental competition.
“We’re back in Europe, and that’s where it started off against Real Mallorca,” said the former England Under-21 captain.
“It’s been a rollercoaster since then. We had runs in the cups, and relegation. It’s good to get back into European competition again.
“It was expected that Newcastle would be in Europe every year, but it didn’t happen for five years.
“Things went downhill, but we’ve turned it round.”