Garry Monk keen to give Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup a problem
GARRY Monk hopes he's proved a point after emerging from the shadows to skipper Swansea City.
The club captain has again worn the armband in recent weeks as an injury to Chico Flores presented him with the opportunity of a first-team return.
Flores suffered a dead leg in Swansea's Capital One Cup clash at Liverpool a fortnight ago and Monk was pressed into action.
The only other time he had featured this season was against Crawley in the previous round of the competition, but he showed little sign of rustiness.
Monk had to handle the threat of in-form striker Luis Suarez and though the Uruguayan grabbed a goal, Swansea triumphed 3-1 and reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
The centre-back then started his first Premier League match of the campaign, shackling Fernando Torres in Swansea's 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
And Monk returned to former club Southampton last weekend where he made a couple of crucial interventions as Swansea secured another point.
"In the past few games I've played I don't think I could have done any more," said Monk.
"It's the manager's decision, but I think I've let him know that I can do a job.
"I don't know what he thinks, you'd have to ask him.
"But my plan is to try to push whoever is in front of me.
"If that doesn't happen I'll have to deal with it."
Monk looks to be battling Flores to partner Ashley Williams in the heart of defence for Saturday's match at Newcastle.
Flores hopes to recover in time for the long trip north, meaning Laudrup will have a decision to make.
But even if the Dane opts for the man he signed from Genoa for £2.5 million in the summer, Monk has made progress by posing a question.
Flores would have been an automatic choice at the start of the season when Monk looked to be heading out of the Liberty.
The former Torquay defender was linked with a loan move to Bristol City, but a back injury scuppered the deal.
He did not make a matchday squad until late September, but has since forced his way back into the frame.
"I wasn't involved at all at the start of the season. That was hard to take and I was frustrated," said Monk.
"I've put myself in a good position now so it's up to the manager. I'll keep doing what I've been doing."
Monk has had to prove himself in the past.
Signed by Kenny Jackett in the summer of 2004, he has battled his way up from the basement with Swansea.
He led the club to a dramatic final-day promotion from League Two at Bury seven years ago, and also skippered them in a heartbreaking play-off final defeat to Barnsley 12 months later.
Monk was a regular as Swansea clinched the League One title in 2008 and made a famous block at Wembley to help them reach the Premier League. But he has featured less frequently in the top flight.
The 33-year-old made only 18 appearances last season as he found himself behind Brendan Rodgers's first-choice pair of Williams and Steven Caulker.
"Every pre-season I hear people wonder whether I can still play at this level, whether I've still got anything to offer," he said.
"I like to prove people wrong and hopefully I've done that again with my performances recently.
"I enjoy it, it makes me more determined.
"I understand people talk about age, but if you've got half a brain you can still get by and I look after myself.
"I still think I've got something to offer and I'll carry on trying to prove that."
Monk also made a point to the Saints last weekend, the side that allowed him to leave when they were previously in the Premier League.
He returned in the top tier with Swansea four days ago and frustrated Southampton.
He made a number of key blocks to keep Nigel Adkins's side at bay, particularly in the second half when Rickie Lambert spearheaded a home surge.
"It was a great game for me and Nathan (Dyer) who have played for that club before so I enjoyed it," said Monk.
"To go back and captain Swansea with both sides in the Premier League was fantastic.
"The playing staff have more or less moved on since my day, but there were still people in the background. I saw my old digs lady.
"My mum and dad were there as well so it was a nice day.
"I thought in the first half we were pretty comfortable without really creating anything, but it felt like we spent the whole of the second half defending."
Swansea could also find themselves under the cosh when they visit a Newcastle side who had only been beaten once at St James' Park this season before last Sunday's defeat to West ham.
But Laudrup's men will travel with greater confidence because of their improving form on the road.
After a run of three straight away defeats, Swansea beat Liverpool at Anfield before last Saturday's stalemate at St Mary's.
"Newcastle is a really difficult game, but one that we can get something from," added Monk.
"Hopefully we can get a positive result.
"They are a good outfit, a good club with a massive support at home.
"They've had money to spend on the squad and have got some exciting players.
"We'll have to be at our best, but we got something there last season and we can again."
One year on, Monk does not plan to let his or Swansea's standards slip.