BY RICHARD CAWLEY
There could be one good thing to come out of Lyle Taylor’s knee injury – that he’ll be able to spend more time on the fundraising trail this month.
The 29-year-old Charlton talisman is sidelined after sustaining ligament damage while on international duty with Montserrat.
Taylor has once again dyed his hair pink for October to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Last year he raised more than £16,000.
The South Londoner had scored five goals in six Championship matches before his injury setback.
“If I’m completely honest it will allow me to push the message a little bit harder than last year in terms of appearances and interviews,” said Greenwich-born Taylor, who has had a number of family members affected by the disease.
“Last year I had games to focus on. Now I should be able to do everything and anything thrown at me, within reason.
“That will be good in terms of pushing the message out there.
“I haven’t set any targets. No-one expected us to get to what we did last time. If we can beat that it would be nice but it’s more important getting more people involved and fundraising. It’s not how much money Lyle Taylor raises or how nice Lyle Taylor is – it is about spreading the message.
“I’ve got a platform to do that and push something which is important to me and my family. In the grander scheme of things it is important to society in general.”
It took four hours for Taylor to get his hair dyed on Sunday to a shade that he describes as “neon pink”.
Taylor visited lifelong Addicks fan Betty Hutchins before she passed away in June.
“It is horrible – I don’t want to see people in pain and dying,” he said. “But it is the right thing for me to do and the right thing to do as a human being. If I could make Betty smile for 10 minutes of her life then I’ve done something good, that’s important to me.
“It is always hard, especially Christmas when we go to see the kids in hospital, but again we as footballers can give them something to smile about.”
Taylor is expected to be missing from Charlton action for around two months.
It is the first significant injury he has suffered in his career.
“It’s frustrating,” said Taylor. “When it eventually came out [that he was injured] a lot was said about how I had done this playing for Montserrat – but it had nothing to do with playing for Montserrat; I passed the ball and my knee went.
“I heard it go pop but I didn’t think anything – I wasn’t in pain. Then overnight it stiffened up and I couldn’t walk.
“The next day, Sunday, the MFA [Monserrat Football Association] flew me home. I had a scan in London and was in a knee brace by Monday evening – the process was just as quick as if it had happened here at The Valley.
“The MFA didn’t do anything wrong. They couldn’t control it.
“I’ve been in a knee brace for three weeks and I have got three more weeks before I am hopefully out of it and then it is a case of getting fit, back in the squad and team.
“But I can’t even walk yet, I’m still on crutches for another week.
“Other than a rolled ankle when I was 21 this is my first big injury – at 29. I’ve had little things that might mean I was missing for a week or a few days.
“Am I a quick healer? God alone knows. I hope so and we’ll find out soon.”
Only seven players have scored more league goals in England’s top four divisons than Taylor since he joined AFC Wimbledon in 2015.
Taylor is the Dons’ record scorer in the Football League – 55 in all competitions.
The former Millwall youngster has 70 league goals in that period, netting 30 times in 51 matches for Charlton.
“Neal Ardley [AFC Wimbledon manager] gave me free range to go and win games of football,” said Taylor. “He realised my talent. Now Lee Bowyer signed me and he has done the same thing. He has realised where my talents lie, realised the areas of the pitch I need to be in to score goals.
“For me to be up there, even to be known as someone who has scored a good amount of goals in that period, is vindication in itself. I’ve done something very right and I’m proud of that. I hope I can continue that, when I’m back.”
I caught up with Taylor before Wednesday night’s match with Swansea City.
So far Charlton have proved the doubters wrong since winning promotion to the Championship.
It was felt that Roland Duchatelet’s tight lid on spending – effectively keeping wages at League One level – would cause them major issues competing.
But they have cracked on with the challenge set them.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Taylor. “If you had offered us in the changing room the chance to be on 17 points after nine games then we’d have snapped your hand off.
“The only thing we can say is we are going over and above what we expect. The manager, on the other hand, he said he knew this was going to be the case. And he said the same last year.
“He obviously knows what he has got, he’s watched a lot of football at this level and he knows how good we can be on our day.
“It’s about us performing to those levels and hopefully exceeding expectations – seeing where we go.
“Who knows? It could go anywhere. We could tail off and at the very worst, in my hope, is that we finish mid table. But why not dare to dream and see where we can go?”
PICTURES BY BENJAMIN PETERS