After leading England to three wins and tasting life with the seniors, Steven Taylor is raising the bar.
Republic of Ireland v England
2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifier
8pm, Tuesday 16 October 2007
Turner's Cross, Cork
When it comes to England, patriotic Steven Taylor is not going to sit around and be content with what he's got.
On the outside, international life looks peachy for the Under-21 captain - not only are the Young Lions top of their European Qualifying group, but Taylor's excellent performances in Euro 2007 were recognised when Steve McClaren promoted him to the senior squad for the friendly with Germany in August.
A tinge of satisfaction? Certainly. Resting on his laurels? No chance.
"If I get that opportunity again it would be great," said Taylor. "To get a little sniff made me more hungry and want it that little bit more."
If anything, the Newcastle man has raised the bar of personal expectation after training with the likes of Rooney and Owen, but first is the small matter of facing Ireland in Cork on Tuesday night.
While a draw on the road might be perceived as a decent result, Taylor wants to win. Hell, he wants to win every game and qualify for the play-offs in style.
"We want to win tomorrow but I want maximum points from this group," he said.
"That's one thing I would love. A lot of people talked about Portugal being the best in the group, but it's been proved they are beatable. There is no reason why we can't beat the Irish and the Portuguese."
England are sitting pretty at the top of Group 3 after winning their first three games, the most recent success was a 1-0 win over Montenegro on Friday, and much of their success is down to the defence, which is yet to concede a goal.
Taylor has struck up an excellent understanding with Nedum Onuoha, another who excelled in Holland last summer, and the skipper is well aware of the importance of defensive stability.
"Stuart Pearce has touched upon it, the more clean sheets you get the better the chance of winning the game," said Taylor. "It's worked out pretty well so far. At the moment we are getting our clean sheets in."
But his team can attack too, as six goals in three games would suggest.
"We have attacking options as well," he added. "We have players in front of us who will get you goals. The main thing for us is keeping the back door shut. I can't remember Montenegro getting a clear cut chance."
After two excellent wins on the road, there was a hint of disappointment in the air as the players returned to the changing rooms at the Walkers Stadium on Friday night.
Matt Derbyshire's goal sealed another three points but Taylor and his troops were underwhelmed by their display.
"It [the dressing room] was quite quiet," he revealed. "You looked around the dressing room and everyone was disappointed. If you looked at the overall team performance we are better than that. It was difficult, we had to be patient."
Winning ugly is no mean feat as Brian Ashton will surely agree after guiding his rugby heroes to a dramatic win over France on Saturday night to book a place in the World Cup Final.
Taylor watched with his team-mates as Jonny Wilkinson booted England to glory and admits to being inspired, not just by the manner of the result, but by how much playing for England means to the likes of Phil Vickery and Lawrence Dallaglio.
"Looking at the national anthem, arms round each other, it has inspired a lot of us," he said. "When you put on the shirt you know how much it means to you. You have the Three Lions on there, you are proud. It's a massive honour. There is no greater achievement. It's the best feeling, words cannot describe it."
TheFA.com spoke exclusively with Michael Kightly just hours after landing in Ireland. Click here to read the interview.