Monday 27 January 2020

Neil Taylor not ready for Premier League return

Swansea defender Neil Taylor will start Wales' World Cup campaign without having played in the Premier League this season.
Swansea defender Neil Taylor will start Wales' World Cup campaign without having played in the Premier League this season.

Swansea defender Neil Taylor will go into Wales' World Cup opener without a single minute of Premier League football under his belt.

Taylor was a Euro 2016 hero this summer - playing every game in Wales' march to the semi-final and scoring in the 3-0 victory over Russia - but his extended post-tournament break has handed Chris Coleman a problem ahead of the Moldova game on September 5.

On Wednesday, Wales boss Coleman said at his squad announcement for the Moldova clash it was a concern that some of his players were not playing first-team football.

And now Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin has confirmed that Taylor will sit out Saturday's trip to Premier League champions Leicester to build up his fitness in an under-23 game the previous evening.

"He asked me yesterday if he can play with the under-23s on Friday," Guidolin said of a player whose only first-team involvement this season came in Tuesday's EFL Cup win at Peterborough.

"He rested for three weeks and now Neil is a little bit behind (the rest of the squad) because he came back late after a long tournament in the Euros.

"He understands that now he's not ready. He is not 100 per cent fit and that is important, he's honest about that.

"He will play with the under-23s and then he will be involved with the national team, so he won't travel with us to Leicester."

Swansea seek to bounce back after last weekend's 2-0 home defeat to Hull against opponents they have painful memories of.

Leicester beat Swansea 3-0 and 4-0 during their title-winning season, and Guidolin said those defeats had not been forgotten at the Liberty Stadium.

"It's important to remember that we conceded seven goals against Leicester last year," said Guidolin ahead of the final game before the international break.

"We need some reflection on those results and play a courageous game against a very good team.

"Leicester are a strong team - they are almost the same as last season. But it is very difficult to repeat the same result in the Premier League."

Swansea remain determined to sign a central defender before the transfer window closes next Wednesday.

Ashley Williams' departure to Everton has left them a centre-back short, with Jordi Amat, Federico Fernandez and summer signing Mike van der Hoorn competing for two positions.

"I am happy with the three centre-backs I have, but the season is very long so we need another one," said Guidolin.

"But at the moment my focus is just for our game against Leicester.

"I'm not thinking about the transfer market.

"I think our chairman is working on this but I can say nothing at the moment.

"After the Leicester game, we have time to take some decisions before the deadline."

PA Media

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