Taylor keen to prolong career as Hampden test awaits

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The Independent Football

Maik Taylor has expressed a wish to play into his forties as he prepares to captain Northern Ireland tonight at Hampden Park. The Birmingham goalkeeper will wear the armband in the friendly against Scotland as regular captain Aaron Hughes is injured.

Taylor, just weeks away from his 37th birthday, retains an abiding affection for the game. He said: "I enjoy going to training every day. Everyone loves playing but it is what you do Monday to Friday that is most important. My body is holding up great, so I have not set a date on when I will call it a day. Fingers crossed I will keep going for a while yet for Northern Ireland and Birmingham."

Taylor, who will win his 68th cap, is looking for an action replay of the result the last time he captained the province – in 2006 a goal from Ivan Sproule was enough to defeat Estonia.

Taylor said: "I am very proud to be the captain as it is a great honour. I was very surprised when the manager [Nigel Worthington] called me.

"I am looking forward to leading the boys out and getting a good result. Hampden is one of the places I have not played in my career so I am relishing the atmosphere."

Taylor got the nod ahead of an outfield player because of his experience, according to Worthington. The Northern Ireland manager explained: "Maik has been through many situations internationally and club-wise. What I do know is by giving him the armband it won't take away from his performance."

Taylor expects a difficult time, especially against his Birmingham team-mate James McFadden. The former Everton and Motherwell forward showed his love for the big stage with a spectacular winner for Scotland against France in Paris.

He has been linked with a move away from St Andrews but Taylor knows what an important player he is if Birmingham are to regain their Premier League status.

Taylor said: "He was brilliant for us last season and has got over the disappointment of being relegated. He has come back strong and helped us get off to a great start this season.

"He seems happy at the moment. Every day in training he gives it his all. He has a great will to win and you can see he hates to lose."

Worthington has been hit by a raft of withdrawals with Hughes, Kyle Lafferty, George McCartney and Keith Gillespie all ruled out – while Damien Johnson is also absent through injury. It means Steven Davis, who appears on the verge of completing a move to Rangers from Fulham, will have a key role to play.

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