Wayne Routledge ready to extend Liberty stay with Swansea City
WAYNE Routledge is ready to discuss extending his Swansea City contract after hitting top form this season.
Routledge struggled for regular football last term, but has been a revelation under Michael Laudrup.
The former Newcastle man has seized the opening created by Scott Sinclair's departure to become one of the first names on the Swansea team sheet.
With only one Premier League goal to his name before this campaign, he has already struck twice this season, netting against Sunderland and Reading.
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And the 27-year-old admitted he's loving life at the Liberty.
"For me, on a personal note, it's going well, I'm playing games, making chances and scoring goals so I can't ask for much more," said Routledge.
"People can ask you to pinpoint what it is, but I'm not sure.
"I'm playing more and that's probably given me a bit more confidence and now you're seeing the best of me.
"Obviously I knew Scott going in the summer gave me a chance if I worked hard in pre-season.
"I did that and it's going well."
Routledge reckons he's rarely played better in a nomadic career that has seen him take in spells at Spurs, Portsmouth, Fulham, Aston Villa, Cardiff, Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle after rising through the ranks at Crystal Palace.
And he believes a regular run of games could have helped him find top gear.
The former England Under-21 international arrived from Newcastle the summer before last.
But he initially struggled to make his mark in SA1.
Behind Brendan Rodgers's preferred wide pairing of Sinclair and Nathan Dyer for most of the campaign, Routledge suffered a stop-start season last term.
The winger has already made nearly half as many league starts as the 17 he managed in the whole of that campaign and should again be in Laudrup's XI this evening.
Sinclair's exit opened the door to more frequent football and Routledge has raced through it.
"Everyone's frustrated when they're not playing, it doesn't matter who you are or where you are," said Routledge.
"Everyone wants to play the game of football, that's what we love doing.
"You get frustrated but there's nothing you can do about it. Now I'm enjoying my football every time I step out on the pitch and every time we train.
"That's a nice feeling because that's when you get the best out of players.
"This has to be up there with the best form of my career, but I'd like to think there's more to come."
Swansea will be keen to see any further potential realised in South Wales. Routledge has 18 months to run on the contract he signed after agreeing a £1.75 million move from the North East.
But he is interested in extending that stay.
"A couple of people have asked me about my contract but there's nothing new to say," said Routledge.
"If the manager or chairman want to sit down and start talking about a new deal we'd definitely sit down and talk, I've got no worries about that. But the question hasn't been brought up yet.
"I'm enjoying my football, playing games and training. That's all you can ask so hopefully that will continue.
"It would be nice to sign a new deal. I get on well with the boys and the staff here, we're really united.
"If something can be put in place it is something I'd sit down and talk about, but there's nothing yet."
Laudrup admitted Routledge has become a vital cog in the Swansea machine under his stewardship.
"Obviously he is playing very well and we all know that when you do things well there are always positive rumours," said the Dane. "I don't think a new contract is close at the moment, but he is an important player for us."
After two home games against Premier League lesser lights in which there was pressure to deliver, Swansea travel to Manchester free of expectation.
A draw with Reading followed by victory over Wigan was a satisfactory return from those fixtures and leaves Laudrup's side in mid-table.
Now Swansea chase bonus points as they face a star-studded team overwhelmingly tipped to win at a canter this evening.
Manchester City didn't lose a league game at the Etihad last season, where Swansea were dispatched 4-0 on the opening weekend.
"It's become something of a fortress for them, but we've got to go there in a positive frame of mind," said Routledge.
"As footballers they're in the higher echelons, but sometimes you have games when it doesn't click.
"That seems to be what happened the other night, it wasn't the usual Manchester City. But that leaves us at risk of a backlash.
"We have to get our minds right and be ready from the start.
"It's a tough place to go, a big expansive pitch and great team.
"But we just have to go there and hopefully hit the ground running from the first minute."
Swansea face a team reeling from a midweek Champions League defeat to Ajax.
That has all but ended their hopes of progressing in the competition and led to rumblings of discontent.
Micah Richards claimed some players were struggling to embrace Mancini's tactics after the loss, while the Italian dismissed that suggestion.
"Manchester City are Manchester City. Whoever they play and whatever formation they have, facing them is an unbelievable task," said Routledge.
"I think a lot of people are taking a lot away from Ajax.
"Ajax had their game plan, they stuck to it, they got their goal, they sat back and they got them on the counter-attack.
"You have to give credit to them.
"When you play Manchester City whatever they do it's going to be a really hard game."
Routledge was introduced at half-time last season as Swansea endured a baptism of fire on their Premier League debut.
They have progressed since then, but so have City.
Mancini's men have gone from a collection of expensively assembled individuals to a title-winning team.
"We've got a year under our belts but we're still learning," added Routledge. "Everyone is still learning about what the Premier League is and how to get the wins.
"Sometimes we're a bit naive, but we're getting better all the time."
Their education continues today, though Swansea do not want to be taught too much of a lesson.