TAYLOR: CARROLL WILL PROVE HIMSELF
Ryan Taylor is backing Andy Carroll to prove himself as a Liverpool player - but not until after the Reds' visit to Newcastle on Sunday.
The 23-year-old England international returns to Newcastle, the club which sold him to the Reds for a staggering £35million in January last year, for the first time with the Merseyside jury still out on him.
Carroll has just eight goals to his name in 47 appearances for his new club, and the reputation he built at St James' Park as an attacking powerhouse has waned during his time at Anfield.
However, Liverpool fan and former team-mate Taylor is convinced a man he saw terrorise top-flight defences in a black and white shirt will rediscover his form.
He said: "He's still a big talent. Things just haven't gone the way he probably would have liked them to have gone.
"Big-money signings are always put under the spotlight and if you don't produce, you are always going to get talk of him being too much money.
"But he is such a big talent. We know what he can do, he knows what he can do - but hopefully we can stop that on Sunday.
"Hopefully, that run can continue for just one more week, but with being a friend and a Liverpool fan, I do hope he can come through this and show Liverpool fans exactly what [manager] Kenny [Dalglish] bought him for.
"He's a massive talent and he is definitely going to be one for the future once he settles down and gets his feet on the ground."
Taylor and his team-mates could be forgiven for hoping Carroll does not find his touch on Sunday, with skipper Fabricio Coloccini missing from their defence as he nurses the hamstring injury he picked up at West Brom last weekend.
With Steven Taylor still recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Mike Williamson is the club's only fit specialist central defender, and he will be partnered on Sunday by James Perch.
The versatile 26-year-old, who arrived on Tyneside from Nottingham Forest during the summer of 2010, has played at full-back, in midfield and alongside Williamson already this season and, after a difficult start to his Newcastle career, has become something of a cult hero in recent weeks.
However, the man hailed as "Perchinho" by the travelling fans at the Hawthorns last Sunday could have his work cut out this time around with Carroll and Luis Suarez looking to fire the Reds back into the race for a top-six finish.
Taylor said: "You expect James to do well again because he is full of confidence at the minute.
"He was here when Andy was, so I am sure he knows what he is all about and I am sure he can fill in for Colo and play just as big a part as Colo does.
"He's a great lad and he deserves his chance."
As a boyhood Liverpool supporter, this weekend's fixture is one of those to which Taylor has looked forward most this season.
It has been an eventful campaign for the 27-year-old utility man, who has shaken off a calf injury to return to the squad, and he has high hopes of adding another famous victory to the ones his goals helped to secure against Sunderland and Everton.
He said: "It's one of those fixtures you look at straight away. It's always quite exciting and it's got a bit more spice to it this time around, the way the season has gone.
"Not just me, there are a lot of people looking forward to it as well.
"We are trying to push on now for that fifth or sixth spot, and who knows from there?
"If we can beat Liverpool, the gap is looking quite comfortable with seven games to go.
"It would be a great achievement to finish above them, considering what Liverpool have done in the last five or six years in the Premier League and in Europe.
"It would show what a season we have had and what a team spirit we have got because Liverpool is such a massive club."
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