Swansea City remain in contention for promotion from the Championship as they currently sit in eighth spot heading into the final 16 games of the season.
The South Wales outfit managed to keep their promotion bid on track with their 1-1 draw against Preston last weekend, with this ensuring the Liberty Stadium outfit have lost just once in their six league matches since Boxing Day.
Steve Cooper has enjoyed a solid start in his first role as a first-team head coach, and the former England Under-17 boss relying on a blend of youth and experience to help see his side through some difficult moments so far this term.
Wayne Routledge is one of the players within the squad who falls firmly into the experienced category, with the winger having made a total of 275 appearances for the Swans since his arrival at the club in the summer of 2011.
Here, we take a look at Routledge’s current situation at the club with his contract set to expire this summer…
Firstly, what is Routledge’s contract situation?
“Routledge had looked set to end his long-term association with the Swans as his contract came to an end last summer, but the Welsh side then decided to offer fresh terms to Routledge shortly following his release.
“It was announced the new deal would run for the duration of the 2019/20 season, with the Swans pinpointing Routledge as one of the experienced players they could not afford to lose after offloading the likes of Leroy Fer and Martin Olsson.
“This means the 35-year-old’s current deal is set to expire this coming summer, and Swansea have a decision to make.”
How has he performed this campaign?
“The winger enjoyed a regular role in the side towards the end of last campaign, but he has been unable to nail down a spot under Cooper which means he has made just seven Championship starts over the course of the season.
“Routledge has certainly not performed badly when he has been utilised by Cooper, with his display against Cardiff back in October being a stand-out performance as he provided an excellent assist for Ben Wilmot’s winning goal.
“However, his displays have not been impressive enough to establish himself in the side ahead of the likes of Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew, with this meaning he has played much less first-team action than he would have liked.”
Do you think he will play a key role during the rest of the season?
“There can be no doubt that Swansea will need to make the most of their experienced players if they are to sustain a promotion push, and this could make Routledge a valuable option for Cooper to have.
“However, I cannot see the winger being able to nail down a regular spot in the starting line-up with Celina and Ayew both performing well, while the return of Jordon Garrick from injury will only add further competition.
“I can see Routledge making some important cameos for the rest of the season, but it would be surprising to see him become a regular starter while Cooper is at the helm.”
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What are the risks involved for the Swans?
“There are plenty of reasons why the Swans would want to keep hold of Routledge given his loyalty to the club in addition to the experience he adds to the squad, but it may be a step too far for the club to extend his terms.
“Routledge would likely demand a higher wage than what the financially-restricted Swans would be willing to offer for a fringe player, while there is no guarantee over the winger’s continued fitness given he is not getting any younger.
“The 35-year-old is definitely a fantastic presence to have within the squad, but there will be serious question marks over his future in the coming months.”
Would Routledge be keen on staying on?
“He made no secret of the fact he wanted to extend his terms last summer which suggests he would once again be keen on staying on, particularly given he is now so settled in the city after spending nine years at the club.
‘Routledge clearly has a strong affection for the club given how long he has spent in South Wales, and the chances are that he would be eager to extend his contract into next season if the club are willing to do business.
“However, Routledge will need to seriously consider how he wants to spend his final playing years given retirement cannot be too far around the corner, and he may want to play more regularly at this stage of his career.
Finally, can you see Swansea extending his deal beyond this season?
“It will be a tough call for the Swansea hierarchy.
“There will be no doubts over the fact that Routledge adds important qualities to the squad, but the club will need to consider whether they would rather spend the winger’s wages on a more long-term attacking option.
“I think the club will find it difficult to justify extending Routledge’s terms given his lack of playing time this season, but this could easily change if he is deployed more frequently during the second half of the season.”