Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is relishing the prospect of having central defender Steven Taylor fit for the new Barclays Premier League season.
The 26-year-old has been out of action for seven months after rupturing his Achilles tendon during the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea on December 3 last year, but is now back in training and eagerly anticipating a return.
That represents a major boost for Pardew after the club's gamble on not signing cover for the former England Under-21s skipper in January fortunately did not backfire.
Pardew told the Evening Chronicle: "I'm looking forward to having Steven running around and playing again.
"Having Steven back fit for pre-season is a big boost for us. He did very well last season before his injury.
"He's an important player for us, and we want everyone fit for what's going to be a tough season. He's hoping to have an injury-free season, and hopefully he will."
Taylor will fight for a place alongside captain Fabricio Coloccini with Mike Williamson, who, barring a couple of difficult games last season, deputised ably in his absence.
The Magpies' interest in FC Twente's Brazilian-born defender Douglas in ongoing, but no move is imminent with the player needing to remain in Holland until the end of August to fulfil residence requirements to make himself eligible to play for the Dutch national side.
In the meantime, Taylor will get a chance to impress Pardew all over again in a pre-season campaign which is yet to be finalised, although it is expected to start in Germany this weekend.
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