Martin O'Neill unhappy at Sunderland chants aimed at Newcastle's Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor: Newcastle United defender was the target of chants from Sunderland supporters

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Martin O'Neill has expressed his disappointment following 'very poor taste' chants by Sunderland fans towards Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.

In the build-up to Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby, Taylor had stoked the fires by claiming that no Sunderland player would get in to the current Newcastle team.

Taylor was the target of abuse from home fans from the warm-up to the end of a tight encounter despite only playing the last 10 minutes as a substitute, and on at least two occasions, smiled at and applauded the home crowd.

However, there were repeated chants of, 'Steven Taylor, we wish you were dead' among other unsavoury offerings from both sets of fans, one from the away end referring to Jimmy Savile, and although both O'Neill and Magpies counterpart Alan Pardew insisted they had not heard them, the Ulsterman voiced his disappointment.

He said: "I didn't know that. That would be poor, in very poor taste, if that's the case. I would be disappointed to have heard that."

Taylor has been a target for Sunderland fans since winning the penalty from which Shola Ameobi snatched a 1-1 draw at St James' Park in February 2009 after going down all too easily when challenged by Steed Malbranque.

O'Neill revealed he had not referred to the 26-year-old's pre-match comments in his team talk, but admitted his players were well aware of what had been said.

He said: "It didn't figure in my team talk, but some of the players had passed comment about it.

"He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. I am delighted he made their bench."