The Canaries could, it appears, face a tough fight again this summer for the signature of Martin Taylor as new Blues boss Alex McLeish warms to Tiny's charms.
The 28-year-old, six-foot four-inch defender was one of Glenn Roeder's principal transfer targets this January after bolting the out-of-favour Birmingham defender into his side within 48-hours of his arrival at Carrow Road last autumn.
Taylor was an instant hit – helped by his brave derby header in that 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town.
But having seemingly been all set for a switch to Norfolk as McLeish backed Steve Bruce's judgement and deemed Taylor surplus to his requirements, a combination of Gary Cahill's move to Bolton Wanderers ahead of Blues, a niggling injury to Rafael Schmitz and Radhi Jaidi's exit to the African Cup of Nations has found McLeish looking at Roeder's 'most wanted' in a new light.
On the bench for the 1-1 draw away at The Emirates against Arsenal, Taylor started this weekend's 1-1 draw with fellow relegation strugglers Derby County. And, according to his manager, he didn't “put a foot wrong” in only his second appearance this season for his full-time employers.
Foiled in a late ?1 million move for Taylor as Birmingham took the player off the 'For Sale' market, Roeder's powers of persuasion will need to be at their best again this summer if 'Tiny' is ever to become a Canary player.
“Obviously football is a funny game and whilst I was training at Birmingham, I was always in and around the first team,” Taylor told the Birmingham Mail today, breaking a long silence as to his future footballing plans.
The fact that McLeish opted not to freeze him out of the picture may, it seems, have worked to Norwich's disadvantage as the Blues boss began to appreciate what he might just be missing.
Likewise that loan spell in Norfolk – where Taylor won the Anglian Player of the Month award for November – may merely have succeeded in topping up his match fitness levels with both Birmingham and McLeish now happily reaping the benefit.
Granted the first team football he always craved – and still in the Premiership to boot – Taylor's own need to up-root his young family for a new life in Norfolk would also appear to be on the wane. That said, two big summer signings at St Andrew's and the whole picture could change again.
He did, after all, sign a new three-year contract with Blues last spring after being one of the main-stays of Bruce's successful promotion push.
“All I could do was show what I was capable of in training and in reserve games,” said Taylor today, keeping track of the number of defenders actually at McLeish's disposal once Cahill opted for the Reebok ahead of a switch across the second city and the Brazilian, Schmitz, started to go lame.
“With Jaidi going away to the ANC, there are less centre-halves here,” Taylor told the paper. “I just wanted to show the manager what I could do. I've now got a chance and hopefully I can stay in the team for a bit and show what I can do.”
The fact that Roeder can, from Thursday, return to the 'emergency loan' market might – in theory – have kept the Taylor pot bubbling. However, the arrival of both Reading 19-year-old Alex Pearce and Matthew Bates from Middlesbrough last week ensures that Roeder has plenty enough cover at centre-half.
Both will return to their clubs in the summer. And with Gary Doherty out of contract and free to walk, the whole centre-half debate will fire into life again at the end of the season. For now, however, the Tiny trail is cold.
“Am I expecting to move on or do I want to stay here? Of course, I want to stay here. I need to play football. You cannot be sitting on the sidelines all season,” said Taylor.
“That is one of the reasons why I went to Norwich in the first place – and it did me good. It got me first team games at a good standard. And I'm glad I did that; I might have been a bit more rusty against Derby if I hadn't done that. I am contracted to Birmingham, I enjoy being here and I just want to stay in the side.”
All of which suited McLeish just fine as Blues find their backs to the wall on the back of a miserable defeat at Sunderland and that inability to prise all three points out of a long-doomed Derby.
McLeish told the Mail: “Martin had a good game against Derby and I said if I couldn't get the centre-half I wanted, I would keep Tiny (Taylor).
“He has trained with us, he has never been out of our plans. We have always kept him involved.”
Missing out on Cahill, however, forced him to re-assess his options.
“When I came in I thought it was maybe time for him to move on – if I got the centre-half I wanted,” said the Blues boss.
“I thought at his age, he should keep playing rather than being third or fourth choice and it was only a business decision but we didn't get that man and Tiny has come in and showed all his good experience on Saturday. He has certainly got the experience and he showed it against two quick forwards.
“I don't think he put a foot wrong.”
Leave a Reply