Connor Taylor has started Bristol Rovers’ last two League Two contests at centre-back, and his performances of late have impressed manager Joey Barton.
Taylor, who has embarked on a season-long loan spell with The Pirates from Stoke City, will be hoping to get a season of regular first-team football under his belt, following a sole Championship start last term.
Last time out, Taylor gained regular minutes with Stoke’s U23s, during their Premier League 2 campaign – a year that ultimately ended in a strong 12-game unbeaten run.
This season, the young defender has started both games in the Cup and has three League Two appearances to his name.
On Saturday, after The Pirates’ 1-0 win over Crawley Town, Barton spoke to the club’s media about the progress of some of the more youthful players in his squad: “Cian Harries and Connor Taylor who’s 19 and was a colossus again, Alfie Kilgour coming back in and that’s a real young backline and Josh Grant in front.”
To see the teenager excelling with the League Two side is an extremely positive sign for Stoke.
Regular minutes in the EFL can only be a positive thing for all involved, and for Taylor in particular, he will return a more intelligent and experienced professional.
Stoke already possess a very young backline, with Ben Wilmot (21), Leo Ostigard (21), and Harry Souttar (23), all emerging as starters early in this season, meaning that Michael O’Neill is not afraid of trusting youth.
If Taylor is able to continue his strong start in what remains of the season, then he has every chance of competing for a first-team spot in Staffordshire next year.