Taylor blow for young Lions

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England Under-21s have suffered another blow ahead of Friday's crunch game with France, as Newcastle stopper Steven Taylor has withdrawn from the squad.

Boss Peter Taylor had already been deprived of the services of Leighton Baines, Aaron Lennon and captain Nigel Reo-Coker, and will now have to contend with the loss of the defender who scored twice against Poland last month - after he sustained a shoulder injury

The Three Lions take on Les Bleus in a play-off to allocate a spot in the European Championship at White Hart Lane on Friday night, and will have to turn to the likes of Michael Dawson, Curtis Davies and Anton Ferdinand against a strong French outfit.

Taylor is due to return to Tyneside later on Wednesday so a specialist can determine the possible duration of the problem.

The injury to the promising young stopper is just the latest in a long line for Magpies boss Graeme Souness, who has been without a string of first team players throughout the season.

Prospects at St James' Park appeared to be brightening before Taylor's injury, and club captain Alan Shearer has returned to boost the side following a hernia operation in Germany.

The legendary striker could resume training later this week in a bid to be fit for the trip to Premiership leaders Chelsea on November 19.

Irish defender Steven Carr will also be hoping to take on The Blues after also continuing his recovery from a hernia operation.