Creative Routledge is rightat the top of his game
WAYNE Routledge is an avid fan of the Fifa comp- uter game series — but admits he never picks himself.
Instead, the Swansea City winger prefers to sample some Spanish glamour when putting his feet up and the console on.
Routledge, it seems, is not one to blow his own trumpet.
But Michael Laudrup could do a lot worse than select the 27-year-old on current form.
The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo rule the ratings in the virtual world just as they do in reality.
But after four matches of the Premier League season, Routledge's stats are pretty impressive too.
Only Chelsea star Eden Hazard, Manchester City talisman Carlos Tevez and Swansea colleague Michu have contributed to more goals than the Sidcup-born wideman so far in this top-flight campaign.
Routledge has set up goals for Michu, Danny Graham and Nathan Dyer, and also got on the scoresheet himself with an emphatic finish against Sunderland.
"I like games. I'm a PlayStation man myself, I can't really get along with the Xbox, I can't really get to grips with the controller," said the man who joined Swansea from Newcastle 14 months ago.
"I like the PlayStation a lot and Fifa is my game.
"I tend to play as Atletico Madrid. That seems to suit me so I stick to them.
"We used to have Fifa nights when I was at Newcastle.
"Leon Best used to play, Danny Simpson and Jose Enrique, but it got frustrating in the end because Jose was too good.
"I don't really talk about Fifa at Swansea because no-one plays.
"Nathan (Dyer) tries but he's not gifted with the controller, he's better with his feet."
Back in the real world, Dyer has also recorded stand-out stats in the first month of the campaign.
He scored a sensational double in Swansea's thumping 5-0 opening-day win at Queens Park Rangers and has also created goals for Routledge and Angel Rangel.
That form revived speculation that the Southampton youth product may be set for an international call-up.
But even when Arsenal winger Theo Walcott became the latest in a series of withdrawals, Roy Hodgson didn't include Dyer in his England squad for the recent matches against Moldova and the Ukraine.
Instead, 17-year-old Liverpool rookie Raheem Sterling was summoned along with Southampton's Adam Lallana and Spurs midfielder Jake Livermore.
"I felt Nathan was really unlucky not to get called up after some players dropped out," said Routledge, speaking ahead of the launch of EA Sports Fifa 13.
"And that shows the progression of this team.
"Nathan's been playing really well and I'm sure it won't be long before he gets his chance."
Maybe Routledge will also get an opportunity to wear the Three Lions at senior level if his recent displays continue.
After all, no English player has so far had a hand in more goals than the former Aston Villa man.
The likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and James Milner all trail in Routledge's wake, while only £32 million capture Hazard betters him in the assist stakes.
"My ambition first and foremost is just to keep playing well for Swansea City," added Routledge.
"If anything else comes then it comes.
"At the moment I'm trying to enjoy myself here.
"I haven't seen the stats list, but things have been going pretty well for me and the team.
"We're creating chances and we've been putting them away,'' he went on.
"Personally it's nice to play, and get a run of games, especially at the start of the season."
While Routledge's fine form has prompted plaudits, one man already playing international football has had three weeks to forget.
Ashley Williams's under-hit back pass allowed Steven Fletcher to give Sunderland the lead against Swansea last time out at the Liberty.
The centre-back then reported for Wales duty as Chris Coleman's side went down 2-0 to Belgium before being thumped 6-1 in Serbia.
And on his return to club action last weekend, a mistimed header presented Aston Villa substitute Christian Benteke with the opportunity to seal all three points against Michael Laudrup's team.
Despite those setbacks, Swansea's faith in their skipper remains unshaken.
"Ash is fine. He's a top-quality defender," said Routledge.
"If he makes a mistake it's very much highlighted because of the position he plays.
"But Ash was probably our most consistent and best player last season.
"Things like that happen, it's how you come out of it and I'm sure he'll be fine.
"He doesn't have to apologise, everyone makes mistakes.
"They are going to happen when you play at the top level against top players.
"It's about how you come back from that and he'll be fine. He's a really top player."
Despite his stellar start to the season, Routledge's Swansea place could come under threat when Everton visit the Liberty this afternoon because of the competition for places out wide right now.
Record signing Pablo Hernandez impressed after coming off the bench for his debut at Aston Villa last weekend.
Now he is pushing for a first start since completing a £5.55 million switch from Valencia three weeks ago.
The Spanish star has four caps for his country and his arrival provided another indication of the strides being made at Swansea.
He signed a week after Swansea had shelled out just £50,000 less for South Korean international Ki Sung-Yueng.
"We're a Premier League club and it's natural and healthy to have competition for places," said Routledge.
"I can only keep doing what I'm doing at the moment and hopefully that will be enough to keep me in the team.
"Everton are a really, really good side. They're well organised, well drilled and they've got really good players.
"We'll have to be on our game and I'm expecting a tough match at the weekend.
"Sometimes it takes a setback like we had at Villa to make you think and really focus on your game.
"Hopefully we can put things right and pick up a win against Everton."
Three points are the prime target — but Routledge will also hope to improve his own stats.
Routledge appears in EA SPORTS FIFA13, available on iOS from September 25 and September 28 on all formats. Pre-order your copy now at Game.co.uk