SWINDON Supermarine’s Chris Taylor is convinced that his side’s play-off chances have been greatly increased by the return of influential captain Dave Bampton.

The former Worcester centre-half has missed chunks of this season due to injuries and unavailability but when he has played, the 28-year-old has been a steadying figure at the back.

Marine have lost only once since the beginning of December which sees them sit ninth in the Division One South and West table, leading Taylor to believe the play-offs are now a minimum target for his side following Bampton’s return.

“It was a massive boost to have Dave back,” he said. “He’s the best defender in the league by a mile. He’s a leader on the pitch. We wouldn’t have got beaten by Didcot if he was playing, I’m sure of that,” said Taylor.

“He could play a couple of leagues higher if he wanted but he’s happy here and enjoying his football and that’s good for us.

“We should have a lot of confidence at the moment, we’ve won five of the last six, so there’s no reason that run shouldn’t continue.

“I think if we carry on this form then we’re going to be right up there in the top three.

“If we don’t make the play-offs the season is a failure in my eyes.”

Marine are currently three points behind Tiverton but if they manage to get the win then they’ll go above them by virtue of goal difference.

When the two teams met in October, Dave Webb’s side lost 2-1 to the Somerset club but Taylor believes Marine are in better shape now and will be able to avenge that defeat on Saturday.

“I think we were going through a bad spell at that point,” he said. “We had a lot of injuries and suspensions, with people coming in and out of the side.

“Now we’re a more settled unit. We’re happier with the system and I think we can get the win.

“We’ve had a few breaks, it’s hard when you’re starting and stopping but it’s the same for everybody.

“We’ve been working hard in the gym so it should be alright.

“We’ve got to take it game by game. I don’t see any benefit from looking too far ahead.”