Jazz Richards signs new Swansea City contract
JAZZ Richards is ready to scrap for a first-team place after signing a new contract at Swansea City.
The versatile local lad’s current deal was due to expire in the summer, but he has agreed fresh terms that will keep him at the Liberty for another three years.
Richards, currently on loan at Crystal Palace, admits other sides were interested in him.
But the 21-year-old insists he never thought about leaving his home city club.
“I always saw my future at Swansea, this is where I was born and grew up,” said Richards.
“They’re playing the best football in the top league so I’d be stupid to leave.
“This is where I want to be. I spoke to the manager, he’s happy for me to go out and get games, but I think he likes me.
“There was interest here and there, but this is where I want to be, this is where I grew up playing.”
Richards made four cup appearances for Swansea this season before moving to Palace for the rest of the campaign in January.
There he has been a regular for Ian Holloway’s side, who are pushing for promotion from the Championship.
“One of the reasons for going out was to show the manager and the chairman that I can play,” said Richards.
“That’s what I’ve gone and done, and I think I’ve done well so far.
“You have to fight for that contract.
“I needed those games so that’s why I went out to Crystal Palace.
“It’s been a few years now and I haven’t been able to get those games at Swansea.
“The manager and chairman came to an agreement to let me go and I’m finding my confidence again.
“I’m happy to be playing and gaining experience.”
Richards will return to Swansea in the summer and then set about pushing himself further into the first-team frame.
Originally a midfielder, the Brynmelyn product is now used more often as a full-back who can operate on either side of the back four.
But Richards faces stiff competition to force his way into the Swansea defence.
Right-back Angel Rangel is enjoying arguably his best season since switching to South Wales, while Ben Davies has emerged from the shadows to excel on the left.
Neil Taylor is close to returning from a serious ankle injury, and Dwight Tiendalli, who can also play as either full-back, has been brought in.
“I’m always ready,” said Richards. “Obviously, we’ve got a top-quality right-back in the team in Angel.
“And Ben Davies is playing well at the moment.
“I can’t expect to jump straight into the team, but I’m always ready to fight and I’ll come back in the summer and fight again.”
Richards was rewarded for his form at Palace with a first competitive Wales appearance against Croatia on Tuesday.
The former under-21 skipper replaced midfielder Hal Robson-Kanu in the second half of the 2-1 defeat at the Liberty.
That came after he won his first cap in a friendly against Mexico last summer.
“It’s nice to get the extra cap, although I was gutted about the result,” added Richards.
“I thought the boys did well in the first half, but Croatia are a top-quality team, that’s what you’ve got to remember.
“I made my debut in the summer in a friendly, but it was nice to make my competitive debut at international level.
“I wasn’t expecting to get on the pitch, especially in the position I found myself in.
“I thought the boys did well and we’re looking strong again as a side.”