Player to watch this season: Neil Taylor at Swansea
A seventh season as a professional footballer might not always be considered as a make-or-break one for a player, but Swansea’s Neil Taylor would be forgiven for thinking that ahead of 2013/14.
Having made the rise up from Conference football with Wrexham, earned promotion from the Championship with the Swans, won 10 caps for Wales and represented Great Britain at the London Olympics, Taylor would have been feeling on top of his game at the beginning of the last campaign.
Then Swansea took on Sunderland in September.
A broken ankle sustained in a challenge by the Mackems’ Craig Gardner ensured that the Welshman’s season was all but over before it had begun.
In Taylor’s prolonged absence, Swans boss Michael Laudrup turned to rookie Ben Davies, who subsequently went on to nail down the left-back slot both at the Liberty Stadium and with the Welsh national team, two positions which the by now forgotten Taylor would have felt were his own.
The 24-year-old did return to play cameo roles in three of the Swans’ last four league games of last season, but having missed their Capital One Cup triumph at Wembley he’ll be determined to get back to the form which once saw him linked with moves to Liverpool and Manchester United after playing a starring role in Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea team of 2011/12.
Laudrup has spoken of the “beautiful problem” that Taylor and Davies have now presented both him and Wales boss Chris Coleman with, but with the additional demands of Europa League football on Swansea’s horizon then both left-backs will be needed.
With a full pre-season programme under his belt, it’ll be Taylor who feels he can claim his place back in a Swansea side who are 11/8 to finish in the top 10 and 11/1 for a top six berth this season.
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