Football - Swans braced for crucial spell

Swansea travel to face Tottenham on Sunday with Neil Taylor warning it marks the beginning of a period which can define the Welsh club's season.

PA Sport Report

Thursday's 5-1 win over Romania's Petrolul Ploiesti in the play-off round of the Europa League has put Swansea on the brink of reaching the competition's group stage.

It means - barring a cataclysmic collapse in Romania - this week will be the first of a minimum of eight where the Swans will play in Europe on Thursday nights and in the Premier League on Sundays.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admitted his side had struggled with those demands as they dropped from fifth place to finish 16th last term.

Left-back Taylor knows if Swansea are to avoid a similar slump, now is the time when they have to deliver.

"There is no question weeks like these will massively define our season," said the Wales international.

"It defined Newcastle's season last year. You have to have a big squad and be prepared.

"You have to rotate but always be competitive, simple as that.

"We got back at 3am when we played the away leg in Malmo, so coming back from Romania will be later again and gives you less time to prepare for the next game.

"You have to be ready to rotate the squad and have the players to do it, I think we have.

"It's what we want to do. We want to be going all over Europe and testing ourselves but remain strong in the Premier League. This is our first chance to show we can do that."

It has seemed unlikely all summer that Taylor would come up against his Wales colleague Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane, given the saga involving Real Madrid's pursuit of the winger.

But with Andre Villas-Boas having brought the likes of Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli into the club, and Brazil midfielder Willian another target, Taylor has no doubt Spurs will still provide formidable opposition.

"They look really strong," he said. "They have spent a lot of money. I thought if they got in the Champions League that's when they would spend a lot.

"They didn't, but they have still spent it.

"They have definitely strengthened and it looks like they may strengthen further before Sunday's game.

"We'll have to see what team comes out. We have already seen from facing Manchester United that quality can tell.

"We have a quality team as well and hopefully after Thursday we can get a big lift from that win and go there and have a real go."

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