Swansea's Neil Taylor heads to St George's Park for rehabilitation
NEIL Taylor has headed to the Football Association's new national football centre, St George's Park, as he steps up his recovery from a serious ankle injury.
The Swansea City left-back has been sidelined since suffering a dislocation and double fracture in the 2-2 draw against Sunderland in September.
Taylor is set to begin running again, 12 weeks since sustaining the injury, after using an oxygen chamber to speed up his rehabilitation.
And as the Wales international looks to recover lost fitness, he will visit Staffordshire where the FA recently opened their new state-of-the-art facility.
"If you've got it in your country, it's worth using it so hopefully it will be a good to go up there," said Taylor.
"It's just one of those things, if you've got a long-term injury you look to see what you can do.
"In terms of going away to a camp or something, we decided that was an option to try to have a good week with top facilities.
"I'm working well with the physio team here, they're doing a great job.
"But a different environment with different people treating you can help. I think it'll be good."
Taylor was initially ruled out for the rest of the season, but is now targeting a return before Swansea round off their campaign at home to Fulham on May 19.
"That's the idea, but I'll have to see how I react to everything as we go along," he said.
"I hope I'm ahead of schedule, but I've never had a long-term injury, so I don't really know how it works.
"It's frustrating when you're watching games, it's hard, but I'm at 12 weeks now so I'm starting to get my head around it.
"I know I want to get back out on that pitch as soon as possible, but also that I'm only 23 and in the grand scheme of things I can cope with six months out."
Taylor has shed the plaster cast and discarded the crutches on the road to recovery, but the defender insists the real work starts now.
After months spent keeping weight off the leg, he now has to start running again. "I'm not over the worst of it — I've got to run now and start breathing heavily," said the former Wrexham man.
"But the light is there at the end of the tunnel and I just want to get back out on that pitch.
"I'll keep trying to build my strength up, but over the first six weeks you tend to lose most of the things you've built up.
"You have to turn negatives into a positive – that's all you can do.
"You learn things watching games.
"When bad things happen to people it always makes you appreciate what you've got."
In Taylor's absence, teenager Ben Davies has come into the back four and excelled.
The Neath product was given a new contract last week as reward for a string of top-notch performances.
He has also forced his way into Chris Coleman's Wales side, but Taylor is not surprised by Davies's impact.
"Ben's been doing really well, he's a young lad who's eager and keen and he's a local lad. He's willing to learn," added Taylor.
"At this football club, young players come in and people say 'look how well he's done'.
"Look how well Jazz has done when he's come in and played out of position.
"It's no coincidence. With this set-up and the way we play football, we breed youngsters.
"We train with them every day so we see them and know as soon as they step in what they're capable of. Ben's showing that now like other players will in years to come."