Football: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Keeping On-Loan Taylor on Permanent Deal Would Provide a Net Gain for Blues' Defence; despite Recent Setbacks, Maik Taylor Provides Solid Foundations to Blues' Defence, Writes Fraser Thomson
Byline: Fraser Thomson
When Maik Taylor stands between his posts and surveys all before him, he knows that his kingdom is safe. The battlements are manned by some of the toughest defenders in the Premiership and the Birmingham City goalkeeper knows his castle will not crumble.
True, the ramparts have been breached. The Blackburn Rovers marauders last weekend were just the latest invaders into what had been no-mans land for the first few weeks of the season. But Taylor, the last line of defence, knows the wall will be intact again today at the Walkers Stadium, where Blues will try to repel the attacking giants of Leicester City.
The Northern Ireland international is looking forward to the return of England defender Matthew Upson, who should be restored to the back line alongside Jamie Clapham, Kenny Cunningham and Damien Johnson.
Strength in depth, and then some. Upson adds the extra brick in the wall.
Taylor underlines the importance of Upson when he says: 'He is probably the only naturally left-sided centre-half we have got and he has rightly earned his call-up to the England squad and is a tremendous asset to the team.
'He is superb in the air, he has a great spring on him and is the type of player we need against Leicester.'
Clapham remains something of an unsung hero --always going about his job quietly but effectively.
'He is very experienced across the back line, which helped at the start of the season. We score goals as a team and we defend as a team.
'We are aware that we need to get back to being a team that is difficult to beat. We have some good players with Dunny [David Dunn] and Mikael [Forssell] who can score goals but, first and foremost, we need to start keeping clean sheets again.'
It is an often-repeated statistic that Blues kept eight clean sheets as they soared to fourth place in the table. That figure is somewhat blighted now by the 13 goals Birmingham have conceded in their last five games.
Charlton squeezed two past Blues, Wolverhampton Wanderers managed one, Arsenal, Liverpool and Blackburn eased home three, three and four respectively. In return, at the other end Birmingham mustered just three goals in reply.
At 6ft 4ins, Taylor refuses to duck the awkward question of a leaky defence.
'We have had a difficult run of games playing against the top teams which has not helped, but we have come through that now,' said the Irishman.
'The Blackburn game was a bitter blow for us and it is important that we bounce back from that.
'That game is forgotten now. Hopefully, it was just a blip.
Apart from the last twenty minutes, we were well in it and then we let in a goal and our confidence went a bit. …