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Nicky lifted by support

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Steven Taylor has urged Newcastle United fans to remain supportive of Nicky Butt after a weekend which considerably enhanced the midfielder's standing at St James's Park.


Butt has cut an unpopular figure since the 2004 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United. He was slammed for failing to acknowledge the Newcastle supporters after the game and was seen leaving the ground laughing and smiling with his former boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.


But two goals in a man of the match display against Villarreal had the home fans cheering his name on Saturday.


And with fellow midfielder Amdy Faye granted permission to talk to Charlton Athletic about a possible move, a player who looked destined for the exit could now have a role in the coming season.


Team-mate Taylor was delighted to hear Butt silence the boos which greeted his 67th-minute introduction in the Magpies' 3-3 draw.


"The best thing the fans can do is support the players," argued the defender. "For the players to perform to their best they need the fans behind them. It's no good jeering, it'll only send his confidence down."


Butt was also booed against PSV Eindhoven but Taylor hopes his match-saving heroics since have ended that.


"They were singing his name at the end and that must've been special for him," Taylor said. "All he's got to do is to keep his form and the fans should take to him. He was one of the best players in the 2002 World Cup and he's come from a top quality side. He's very popular among the lads and great to have around the dressing room.


"He's someone I look up to and he helps me out in training. He's played with the best centre-halves and gives me tips as well." Glenn Roeder also praised the 31-year-old but was more hesitant about Butt's future. Having admitted all summer he is wary of buying players with nothing left to achieve, the much-decorated former Manchester United player seems a case in point. But Roeder argued Butt's medal haul has not quenched his desire.


"Nicky Butt wants to win whatever game he takes part in," said Roeder. "I don't think he would want to tread water because that's what has made him a player of the highest calibre. If he wasn't, Alex Ferguson would have found him out very quickly."


And Roeder has been impressed with the professionalism and character of a player loaned to Birmingham City last season. "I worked with him for two and a half years (with England)," he recalled. "He was a terrific professional. He has more medals than the majority of players will see in their lives, let alone hold. He's been to all sorts of places with Manchester Unitd and England and come through with flying colours.


"Nicky Butt has worked as hard if not harder than some players in pre-season. He's been right at the front in running, he's always highly-motivated in full-sided games and he's a good listener. You don't have a minute's trouble with him. It's a new season and the slate is wiped clean for everybody.


"His goals are going to make headlines but even if he hadn't scored he had an influence on the game. His first six passes were all in a forward direction, all accurate, and all put pressure on (Villarreal). Everything was starting to revolve around Nicky Butt.


"He's not known as a goalscorer and even less famous with his head but they were two headers which, dare I say it, (Alan) Shearer would have been proud of."


Nevertheless, Roeder sidestepped a question about whether Butt wanted to stay at Newcastle, adding: "I think Nicky Butt wants to play football. Whatever club he is at, I think he wants to play football."


Butt's situation is further complicated by the Magpies' interest in Thomas Gravesen. Both parties have expressed an interest in a move and the 30-year-old Real Madrid midfielder's arrival could necessitate Butt's departure.


Ex-Portsmouth midfielder Faye, who watched Saturday's game from the stands, seems likely to leave after the Addicks agreed a price in the region of £2m for the 29-year-old Senagalese international.

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