Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Routledge in Need of a Top United Show; Wayne Routledge Is in Danger of Becoming a Spare Part at Yet Another Premier League Club and the Winger Is Determined to Stop That Happening at Newcastle United. Chief Sports Writer Luke Edwards Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Routledge in Need of a Top United Show; Wayne Routledge Is in Danger of Becoming a Spare Part at Yet Another Premier League Club and the Winger Is Determined to Stop That Happening at Newcastle United. Chief Sports Writer Luke Edwards Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

THERE is a rather cruel joke about Wayne Routledge suggesting he has had as many clubs as the world's number one golfer Lee Westwood and just as many Premier League goals as well.

Newcastle United are Routledge's sixth top-flight club at the age of just 25, yet he has never found the back of the net in that division and has never managed to live up to the hype which surrounded him as a teenager at Crystal Palace and Tottenham.

The number of moves - eight in total - paint a picture of a player who is too good for the Championship but unable to maintain that form when he steps back up to the Premier League.

Hugely promising at Palace, he failed to settle at Spurs and was loaned out to Portsmouth and Fulham before a permanent move to Aston Villa saw him play just two games for the Birmingham club.

He then went back to the Championship, firstly on loan at Cardiff and then with a return to London to sign for Queen's Park Rangers.

There is talent there, hence why Chris Hughton, who had worked with him at Tottenham when he was assistant manager, spent more than pounds 1m to bring him to St James' Park almost a year ago.

Routledge continues to flatter to deceive at the highest level and has not started a league game for the Magpies since the 2-1 home defeat by Stoke City in September.

A potent creative force as United steamed their way to the Championship title earlier this year, the winger is once again in danger of losing his way on Tyneside. Fail at St James' and he must realise there are unlikely to be many other chances for him to prove he can cut it against the country's best full-backs.

Interestingly, though, Routledge may well benefit from Newcastle's dismal defeat at Bolton Wanderers last weekend.

Without a win in their last three games, and with that heavy defeat at the Reebok Stadium still stinging, Hughton may well decide to freshen things up against the Blues.

The lack of pace in the side has been a concern and, with Joey Barton serving the last game of a three-match ban this weekend, Danny Guthrie could be moved into the middle of a five-man midfield against the reigning Premier League champions - creating space for Routledge on the right.

It is then down to him. Quick and at his best, direct and dangerous, able to cut inside or fly down the wing, Routledge does offer something different.

The question is, is he confident enough in his own ability to actually deliver it? After so many clubs, so many moves, so many settling in periods and so many failed attempts to perform consistently in the top flight, he needs a big performance .

Not just to silence the critics, but to also gain the self-belief he needs to convince himself he can do the same things to a Premier League full-back as he can to a Championship one. …

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