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The Toon centre-back has said he is entering the final straight on his road to recovery after rupturing his Achilles last season

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor is close playing for the Toon again, following a long period of rehabilitation.

The 26 year-old centre-back ruptured his Achilles in a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in December 2011, and has been out with the injury since.

However, the Englishman says he is on course to begin pre-season training with the first team come July, and is very excited at the prospect of playing again soon.

"In footballing terms, we're into added-on time with the injury now and I just have to keep going," he told Newcastle's official website.

"It's sometimes like a 93rd-minute run back from a corner, but you know you have to do it.

"Hopefully, come pre-season, I'm going to be a little bit ahead of the rest of the lads fitness-wise.

"I won't push myself too hard the first week back, but I will be like an excited kid in a sweet shop because I've missed playing so much."

He also acknowledged how work delegated by Newcastle's team of physiotherapists has boosted his fitness levels to lofty new heights. 

"Fitness-wise, I've just been maintaining my work rate and sticking to the programme that Derek Wright, Dave Henderson and Michael Harding have set for me," he added.

"I'm feeling good at the moment and I've just got to keep on going. I'm going away with Derek for five days so we can work on my fitness in the heat, and I've no doubt he'll run me into the ground.

"We're into the final stages now and I'll be happy once all this running is finished."