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Pallister thinks Taylor has tough fight to make World Cup
FORMER England defender Gary Pallister thinks Steven Taylor's call-up for his country could have arrived too late for the Newcastle United man to force his way in to Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans for next year.
And Pallister, a Premier League winner with Manchester United, thinks Rio Ferdinand should still be the main centre-back to lead England to Brazil when the finals begin in 15 months times.
The withdrawal of Ferdinand and then Chelsea's Gary Cahill on Tuesday led to Taylor receiving the phone call to join up with Hodgson's squad for back-to-back qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro.
It is the first time the 27-year-old has been involved in an England get-together since Steve McClaren invited him along after impressive appearances for the Under-21s as skipper.
It seems likely that Manchester United's Chris Smalling or Michael Carrick will start alongside Manchester City's Joleon Lescott at the heart of the defence against San Marino tomorrow. It seems unlikely at this stage that Taylor will receive his first cap.
"Steven has been playing well," said Pallister. "It is a good opportunity for him to be involved down there. It has been a bit of a problem area for England. John Terry is no longer available, there's problems with Rio and I think we have not looked that great at the back.
"There's players like Cahill, Taylor, Steven Caulker, who think they can push their way in to the manager's thoughts. By going in to a major championship in a year's time you need a bit of experience and maybe it has come a little bit too late for Steven. Who knows, but it is great he has got in after the performances he has been producing for Newcastle."
He added: "If they do get the nod to play in the Montenegro game next Tuesday then what a chance. International football is a little different to the hurly-burly of the Premier League, but if they can show the manager they can go there and perform on the big stage it will help them going forward."
While Taylor looks to impress on duty with his country, Ferdinand's wait to add to his 81 international caps goes on. He has not pulled on an England shirt since the Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland in June 2011.
And the fact he withdrew from this squad because - as Hodgson put it - the "detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow" has sparked debates over his inclusion in future squads.
But Pallister, who has been a regular at Old Trafford this season where he has seen Manchester United gain a comfortable lead at the top of the Premier League, thinks Ferdinand should be a shoo-in for the World Cup despite his fitness concerns.
Pallister, who was prevented from adding to his 22 caps because of injury, said: "You have got to look at the way they are all playing and I go to Old Trafford for all of the home games.
"Rio has been absolutely in scintillating form this season. The biggest competitions there is out there, he has been playing regularly in. And for a team sitting top of the Premier League and he turned in outstanding displays against Real Madrid in the Champions league.
"It was only right he was picked back in to the squad. I know the regimes he has have hampered him playing in these games. But, if you look at the football reasons and nothing else, I would say he is the best centre-half in the Premier League at the moment."
When Taylor returns to club duty with Newcastle he will be concentrating on a Europa League quarter-final with Benfica after next Saturday's trip to Manchester City, having been outstanding in the previous round matches with Anzhi Makhachkala.
Newcastle's defence has been one of the strongest points of Alan Pardew's team in recent weeks, although they are set to lose Massadio Haidara from that unit in the coming weeks.
The young Frenchman was back at Newcastle's training ground yesterday to begin his rehabilitation after the controversial horror tackle from Callum McManaman which left him hospitalised.
Haidara's knee cap popped out of place but has gone back in so it is understood he is looking at weeks rather than months on the training ground.
McManaman escaped punishment for the challenge and, after consideration, Newcastle have no plans to take the incident to the courts despite suggestions that Haidara is still waiting for an apology.
Gary Pallister was speaking at Jacamo menswear at Teesside Park, where he signed autographs and posed for photographs along with Middlesbrough players Andy Halliday and George Friend.
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