Steve McClaren hopes "Mr Newcastle" Steven Taylor can show his quality
Steve McClaren has urged "Mr Newcastle" Steven Taylor to earn himself a new contract by helping to stave off the threat of relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
The 30-year-old central defender returned from a five-and-a-half-month injury lay-off in last Saturday's 1-0 win over West Brom, and looked like he had never been away as the Magpies kept a first clean sheet in 11 games in all competitions.
With Chancel Mbemba battling to be fit for the trip to Stoke on March 2, Taylor is likely to keep his place for Saturday's trip to Chelsea, giving him another opportunity to persuade McClaren and the board that his existing contract, which expires in the summer, should be extended.
The head coach said: "He has a chance to show what he can do now. I joke with him, but he is Mr Newcastle, isn't he? He's been here a lifetime, and this is all he knows. He loves this club and loves the area.
"As you saw last week, when he plays, he gives everything for the team. I think that's just his attitude, and we need that. We need the kind of leadership that he showed in terms of his performance.
"For his own career and his own benefit, he just has to keep on playing like that now and get in the team and stay there. That's up to him.
"You still need that kind of identity in your team. We're playing against a team tomorrow in Chelsea who have John Terry, who epitomises that as well."
Asked if he would be recommending a new deal for Taylor, McClaren insisted it was too early to make that decision and added: "Everything's dependent on performance, and that goes for a lot of players here who are out of contract at the end of the season.
"Everybody is playing for their individual futures, and they will only improve those by playing well and helping make sure this team stays in the Premier League."
McClaren will keep his fingers crossed over Taylor's fitness despite Mbemba having received encouraging news on his ankle injury.
He said: "He went to London for a second opinion, and then on to Belgium. The consensus is that with the right treatment, he could be fit in about a month or so."