Heavyweight keeper inches closer to Old Trafford call-up

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The Independent Football

He is nudging 40 and has piled on the pounds since he last played 18 months ago - but Martin Taylor is on standby to keep goal against the might of Manchester United at a packed Old Trafford next week.

Taylor, the Burton Albion goalkeeping coach, was last night put on red alert to face United in the FA Cup third-round replay. Saul Deeney, the Conference club's saviour with a last-minute save in Sunday's 0-0 draw at the Pirelli Stadium, has been on a month-to-month contract since joining from Notts County last season. However, his latest deal has expired and he is waiting to see whether there is any interest from the League during the transfer window before re-signing.

Nigel Clough, the Burton player-manager, reacted to the situation by picking Taylor, a former Derby County keeper who reached the FA Cup semi-finals with Wycombe Wanderers in 2001, to play in last night's Birmingham Senior Cup tie at Stourbridge.

Taylor's eventful League career included being attacked by Millwall fans during a play-off match at the New Den and losing an inch from one of his legs in surgery following a horrific collision at Southend. Now he is in line to face Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy and company.

"The manager told me I was in at Stourbridge and spoke to me about playing at United," Taylor said. "I told him it was his decision, but it wouldn't faze me at all. For the team's sake I hope Saul re-signs because it's not just about next week, it's about the rest of the season."

Taylor added: "I haven't played since Dagenham in August 2004 so I'm going to be very rusty. I train with the team, but then I sit on the bench and I am a little overweight. But I've played in three FA Cup quarter-finals and one semi, so the prospect doesn't worry me."

"The first I knew about it was when I got home on Sunday and my wife said she had heard Nigel Clough say I'd play if Saul didn't sign a new contract. I just laughed! When I was sitting watching the game the possibility hadn't even crossed my mind."

"When I came to Burton last season it was on the understanding that I could play if needed. It saves us having a reserve keeper on the bench. When I played for Wycombe against Liverpool in the semi-final I was at the height of my career and knew exactly what was going to happen. But this has come right out of the blue."