Taylor: We're top class
By Oakley Hartney. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Northern Ireland's Maik Taylor believes he and Roy Carroll make goalkeeping the one area where England do not outclass his team.
The two sides meet on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying encounter, with England currently second in the group with 19 points and Northern Ireland fourth with six points.
Both Taylor and Carroll are playing regularly in The Premiership and, although Taylor is currently their No 1, he knows former Manchester United player Carroll is not far behind him.
"I've got the jersey now but I know Roy is breathing down my neck and if that helps me produce, then brilliant," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"I know that the manager would not hesitate to put Roy in if he thought I was not doing the business and that helps keep me focused."
Although England have a group of young goalkeepers coming up the ranks, they do not have choices with the experience of Carroll and Taylor and, after David James' performance against Denmark, there have been concerns over who the side should put between the posts.
With Carroll at West Han and Taylor at Birmingham, Northern Ireland are not short of goalkeepers who play regularly and Taylor, who was once eligible to play for England, believes this is an advantage for them.
"England have got some exciting young goalkeepers coming through like Chris Kirkland and Rob Green and they are keeping (David) James out at the minute. Paul Robinson is still young in goalkeeping terms and he's having a fantastic season," he said.
"But I also think we are fortunate with Northern Ireland to have two goalkeepers playing regularly in The Premiership as well. It's probably the one area on the pitch where we can compare to them," he added.
Taylor, who regularly shares friendly matches with Carroll, is also quick to sympathise with James, who has been axed from the England squad.
"You would much rather play 90 minutes, but with internationals it's always nice to get caps, especially when you're travelling to distant places," he explained.
"It was a difficult situation for David in Copenhagen but, at this level, you have to be professional. He would have known before the game that he was going to come on. He's got to hold his hands up and say he could have prepared himself better and he did that."