Sunderland v Leeds United: Taylor ready to grasp his chance if it comes his way in Cup clash

Leeds United's Charlie Taylor.Leeds United's Charlie Taylor.
Leeds United's Charlie Taylor.
LEEDS UNITED’S famous FA Cup final with Sunderland back in May 1973 happened way before boyhood Whites fan Charlie Taylor was born, but he expects to be hearing plenty about it from his father today.

York-born Taylor is from Leeds supporting stock and while he does not know much, if anything, about Jim Montgomery’s save from Peter Lorimer, Bob Stokoe’s victory jig or Ian Porterfield’s goal, his father will be reminding him of that occasion.

They may be memories all Leeds fans would like to banish, but they endure as part of the club and the Cup’s rich tapestry.

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Taylor is part of the Leeds squad who head up the A1 tomorrow for the evocative lunch-time clash and one man’s misfortune could prove another’s opportunity, with the left-back involved in Neil Redfearn’s plans because captain Stephen Warnock is injured.

For Taylor, strutting his stuff at the 48,000 capacity Stadium of Light would be far removed from his previous involvement with the world’s most romantic cup competition.

His only other experiences came on loan at Fleetwood Town last season when he played in the 2-0 first-round win over non-league Gloucester at Kidderminster’s Aggborough stadium and in two games with Burton, the Cod Army bowing out after a replay.

Small wonder the 21-year-old, whose last Leeds appearance came at the end of August, will feel a tad nervous if he does take the field in the North East tomorrow.

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Not that big games faze him, with the defender playing his part in Fleetwood’s League Two play-off glory campaign, the Lancashire club beating his hometown club York City in the semi-finals before defeating Burton in the final.

Taylor, who has made just two appearances this term, said: “It’s unfortunate with Stevie’s injury, but hopefully if I do get the chance, I will impress and give the manager a problem. We will have to wait and see the team whenever it gets named. But hopefully I will be playing.

“Michael Owen’s goal in the final is probably my first FA Cup memory.

“It is massively important, probably the biggest (domestic) cup competition in the world. It is huge and everyone wants to win it.

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“I supported Leeds as a kid and my dad is a Leeds fan and he will know all about it (the 1973 final) and I will probably hear about it before the game. He will probably be going up if I am involved.

“We have not really had many runs, have we? The Man United game has got to be the biggest Leeds memory.

“I played last year for Fleetwood in the cup and we drew Gloucester in the first round and breezed past them and then lost to Burton on a replay.

“I can’t wait for the (Sunderland) game. Hopefully I am involved and if I am, it is a huge game and one I can’t wait to play in.

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“I need to take my chance when I get it. I have not had much chance this season and if I do play, I want to try and impress.

“Wembley (with Fleetwood) was a big occasion at a massive stadium last season and I remember the atmosphere and nerves. It was a great experience and one which will put me in good stead if I do play.

“It’s my job and you have to deal with it. There will be a few nerves, but you just have to get on with it.

“I am hopeful I will be involved. You never expect anything, but I was hoping I would get a chance somewhere down the line and what with Stevie’s injury, it is more likely now.

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“I will be nervous if I play what with it being a big game and they are a big team, a Premier League team and an established Premier League side who are very good.”

After penning a three-year deal in the summer, fresh from a rewarding loan spell at Fleetwood, when he was a regular in a memorable season which culminated in promotion to League One, Taylor is the first to admit that 2014-15 has been a season which has not gone the way he would have liked.

He has been forced to watch as fellow youngsters Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt have made considerable waves at first-team level, although his former Academy boss and now first-team head coach Redfearn has been quick to keep him in the loop and keep his spirits up and offer him some craved-for encouragement.

A new year brings new hope for Taylor, with Warnock’s injury maybe leaving the door ajar for him.

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He said: “My last game was against Bolton for about half an hour (on August 30) and the only other one was Accrington in the cup, so I haven’t played much.

This season has been frustrating really.

“But I can’t really complain with Stevie’s form.

“He has been one of the best players this year. When I do get my chance, I have just got to impress really.

“I have just got to train as well as I can and when I do get my chance, impress and push Stevie as much as I can.

“Neil has spoken to the chairman about me and I think he believes in me and he had me since I was 16, so knows all about me. He has been very important.

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“I think I am ready. Last season at Fleetwood has really made me ready and got me up to scratch with first-team football.

“Young players are getting a chance and the lads that have played such as Cookie, Sam and Alex have done brilliant and been our best players.

“It gives all of the young lads confidence that if they do get a chance, then if they are good enough, they will play.

“Neil has tried to keep people feeling positive and I have had a few chats with him over the last couple of months and he has been telling me to stick at it and that my chance will come.

“He is like that with everyone and tried to get everybody involved as much as he can.”