Taylor happy to take time out from Blues

Maik Taylor is grateful to be swapping a relegation scrap in the Barclays Premiership for the international stage this week.

The Birmingham goalkeeper looks likely to captain Northern Ireland in Wednesday’s friendly against Estonia at Windsor Park, because Aaron Hughes has a calf injury.

It has been a difficult time for Taylor – although Birmingham took a step in the right direction at the weekend by beating Sunderland.

He said: “I will try and help Northern Ireland get a win and then look forward to the next game with Birmingham.

“Sometimes it is nice to get away, meet up with the other lads and get up for the international match.

“It will be like a breath of fresh air with the situation Birmingham are in.

“It gets you away from all the pressure and takes your mind off the next couple of games.”

Taylor got a boost to his confidence by keeping a clean sheet against Sunderland.

When he returns from Belfast he faces two more massive league fixtures, against Middlesbrough and West Brom.

He said: “We have got to build on the victory against Sunderland. There are still a hell of a lot of points to play for.”

Taylor has become a permanent fixture in the Northern Ireland side, especially with Roy Carroll injured. Wrexham’s Mike Ingham will provide the back-up against Estonia.

Manager Lawrie Sanchez has kept faith in Linfield striker Peter Thompson, naming him in his squad today even though his expected move in the January transfer window failed to materialise.

Thompson has remained part-time and continued working as a postman in Belfast.

Motherwell’s Brian McLean has also been included, along with the highly-rated Ivan Sproule of Hibernian.

Damien Johnson has been ruled out because of a knee injury, while Keith Gillespie is suspended.

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