Charlie Taylor says he will be ready to handle the nerves of a big occasion if he starts for Leeds United in tomorrow’s FA Cup tie at Sunderland.
The 21-year-old full-back is set to replace injured club captain Stephen Warnock at the Stadium of Light, his first start for Leeds in two-and-a-half seasons.
Taylor made a brief breakthrough at Elland Road during the 2011-12 term, stepping up from United’s academy for a handful of games, but he was sent out for loans at Bradford City, York City and Inverness Caledonian Thistle before spending last season with Fleetwood Town.
Fleetwood won the League Two play-off final at Wembley in May, a match which Taylor started, and Leeds handed him a new three-year deal in the summer, one of only two out-of-contract professionals at Elland Road who received extended terms.
He has played only twice this season, however, with Warnock’s impressive form tying down the left-back position but United’s captain injured his ankle in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Derby County and will not be risked against Sunderland tomorrow.
Taylor said: “I’m hopeful I’ll be involved. You never expect anything but I was hoping to get a chance somewhere down the line and with Stevie’s injury it is more likely now.
“I think I’m ready. Last season at Fleetwood really made me ready and got me up to scratch with men’s football.
“Playing week in, week out and playing twice a week helped my fitness improve massively. It improved my all-around game and I became more confident.
“I’ll be nervous with it being a big game. Sunderland are a big team and an established Premier League side. I’ll definitely have some nerves but hopefully I’ll get into the game.”
Taylor will come up against in-form Adam Johnson if Sunderland manager Gus Poyet uses a full-strength side for the third-round tie.
“I need to take my chance when I get it,” Taylor said.
“I’ve not had much of a chance this season and if I do play, I want to impress as much as I can.”