WAYNE Routledge believes he is ready to unlock his Premier League potential after finally “finding himself” at Newcastle United.
United’s flying winger has played in the top flight with five different clubs, but has only fleetingly showcased his dazzling talent on the big stage.
Big-money moves to Spurs and Aston Villa have floundered because of a lack of games, forcing him back into the Championship to relaunch his career.
The 26-year-old knows some critics believe the second tier is his level, but is determined to prove them wrong – and feels his January St James’ Park move has given him the confidence and belief to do it.
Routledge and wing colleague Jonás Gutiérrez were inspired in Newcastle’s destruction of Blackpool on Saturday, sharing a goal and an assist each as United moved a step closer to the Championship title with a straightforward 4-1 success.
It takes the club to within four points of clinching top spot – an achievement which would give them terrific momentum going into their Premier League campaign next season.
For Routledge, who feels he has learned from his previous disappointment in the top flight, there will be “no let-up” until he has helped United earn the honour he believes they deserve.
He said: “We know we are promoted, but out next goal is to go up as champions.
“We have goals here and things we want to achieve.
“There will be no letting up. We are striving to become champions.
“It has been a great move for me. I am enjoying playing now, especially when you have 50,000 cheering you on every week, and it is a nice place to be at the moment.
“I know only too well how difficult it is going to be in the Premier League, but I cannot wait to play there again.
“It has been frustrating for me the last few times I have been there. All you want to do is play, everyone will tell you that, and I did not have the chance to do that.
“Things happen, but you have to learn and take something from the disappointments you may go through.
“Hopefully, I am a better player for that. I certainly feel I have improved and I just cannot wait now for next season.
“I learned before things do take time, you cannot rush things.
“Where you are at and who you are with is also important.
“It is vital you are able to find yourself and settle down. Hopefully, I can do that here.”
Given his fine form and top-flight experience, Routledge’s right-wing position is one of those Chris Hughton will not regard as a priority to strengthen.
The winger knows there will be other areas where the Newcastle boss is looking to add – but believes the squad which has taken them this far could hold its own in the domestic game’s elite division without additions.
Routledge added: “We have good players here and a good squad.
“It is down to the management and hierarchy to decide what they feel they need and what they want for next season. I feel, though, with the squad we have we should be confident of going into next season.
“I know how hard the Premier League can be, but I am not the only one in this squad. Most of us have played up there and I am no different to them.
“I want us to show everyone what we can do. It will be nice to recharge the batteries in the summer, but when you come back you know you have to knuckle down and be ready to stake a claim.”
Meanwhile, Hughton may hand recalls to Shola Ameobi, Joey Barton and Alan Smith for the trip to Reading tomorrow night as he considers freshening up his starting line-up.