WAYNE ROUTLEDGE will become a Queens Park Rangers player this summer as long as the Londoners secure promotion.
The 26-year-old Newcastle United winger is on loan to the Championship leaders until the end of the season, and manager Neil Warnock says a deal has been struck to make that permanent if the Rs go up.
Routledge has played Premier League football for Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Portsmouth, Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle, but failed to convince at any. He has looked far more comfortable playing at the top end of the Football League.
Pivotal in closing out Newcastle’s title win in the second half of last season, he started just 10 top-flight games this term before returning to QPR in January. His performance for United in the FA Cup defeat at Stevenage could be his last.
“I think they’ve sorted out a realistic figure,” said Warnock.
“I can’t give exact details, but I think we’ve agreed everything with the club should it go ahead. I don’t think there’s any rush for either of us.
“We’d like to sign him, whatever happens, but I imagine it depends on where we end up, because I think Wayne would like to play in the Premier League.
“If things went wrong for us, he would probably go back.
“He’s got to be enjoying it because of the way he’s playing and we’re enjoying having him. We’d love to keep him.”
Routledge has scored twice in eight unbeaten games for QPR, justifying Warnock’s faith.
“I thought he’d do well for us,” he commented. “That’s why I chased him for so long and talked to him so many times. Pestered him, in fact.
“It can sometimes be difficult coming back to a club, but I told him it was a lot different now and I felt the club was geared up to let him play his best.
“I thought we were a solid side and I thought you need players like Wayne to win games.”
Meanwhile, Magpies manager Alan Pardew has no interest in talking about Europe after a weekend which significantly set back his side’s hopes.
Victory at home to a depleted Everton tomorrow could put Newcastle sixth in the table. But a 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City’s shock League Cup win made Continental football less likely at St James’ Park next season.
With Birmingham claiming one Europa League berth, the others will go to the Premier League’s fifth-placed team and the FA Cup winners. Only if a top-five club lifts the Cup will sixth be enough for Europe.
Pardew is trying not to think about that, concentrating simply on finishing as high as possible.
“It’s a situation where, with the goal difference we have (plus four), we could jump a couple of places, and that’s what you want to do at any football club,” he argued.
“We will strive to get a victory on Saturday and see where it leaves us at 5pm, but we are a long way from getting into Europe.”
Eighth-placed Sunderland travel to Arsenal tomorrow, while Bolton, in seventh, entertain Aston Villa and sixth-placed Liverpool host Manchester United on Sunday.
Pardew also reiterated his belief that Joey Barton’s refusal to sign a new contract this season cannot be taken as a sign he lacks commitment.
“We’ll have to sit down with Joey and start again (in the summer) because we thought we were there but it hasn’t quite materialised,” he said. “I’m not going to go into detail.
“Joey’s commitment to play for us, don’t doubt that. I saw a couple of whispers last week that he didn’t want to play last week. It’s absolutely not true. He’s desperate to play tomorrow. He’s going to come in early (to training) and try and play through that injury.”
Barton’s contract expires in the summer of 2012.