I’VE NOT MADE IT YET – ROBERTS

Swansea young­ster keeps level head

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Dan Barnes

RIS­ING star Con­nor Roberts in­sists he’s pay­ing lit­tle at­ten­tion to the spec­u­la­tion link­ing him with a move away from Swansea City.

The down-to-earth 23-yearold is out of con­tract at the Lib­erty Sta­dium at the end of the sea­son and is re­port­edly the sub­ject of Premier League in­ter­est.

How­ever, the Wales full-back takes such talk in his stride, as he has done ev­ery other twist and turn dur­ing his dra­matic rise in re­cent months.

Hav­ing cut his teeth dur­ing loan spells at Yeovil, Bris­tol Rovers and Mid­dles­brough, Neath-born Roberts is now a Swans reg­u­lar un­der Gra­ham Pot­ter and a fully-fledged in­ter­na­tional un­der Ryan Giggs – but he has both feet planted firmly on the ground.

“If you’d have told me last sea­son that I’d be play­ing week in, week out for Swansea and there may be in­ter­est from other clubs, I’d have said, ‘no chance’,” said Roberts.

“My friends send me links and say, ‘look at this, look at that’ but un­til some­thing’s con­crete or what­ever, I’ll keep on play­ing for Swansea, do­ing my best.

“As long as I keep on play­ing well, I don’t re­ally think about things ex­ter­nally – in­ter­est, con­tracts or what­ever.

Con­cen­trate

“I leave that to the peo­ple who deal with that and I’ll just con­cen­trate on what I’m do­ing on the pitch.”

As well as be­ing a stand­out per­former for Swansea so far this term – play­ing ev­ery minute of their Cham­pi­onship cam­paign ahead of the week­end – Roberts also chalked up his first in­ter­na­tional goal last month, a sub­lime left-footed vol­ley in Wales’ 4-1 dis­man­tling of the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

Things seem­ingly couldn’t be bet­ter for the ram­pag­ing right-back, who has been with the Swans since he was ten, but Roberts takes noth­ing for granted.

“From past ex­pe­ri­ences and things that other peo­ple in foot­ball have said to me, it can all go down­hill quickly, so I have to en­joy it and keep on play­ing well,” he said.

“If I was to drop out of the game next week for what­ever rea­son, peo­ple won’t say, ‘he had a hell of a ca­reer’ – they’d say ‘he had 10, 15 min­utes of bril­liance and then he dis­ap­peared’.

“If you look at it and say that I’ve scored for my coun­try and I’m play­ing in the Cham­pi­onship for my lo­cal team, then it’s bril­liant but, in my head, there’s other things that go on in my life.

“It’s not just about foot­ball. Foot­ball is still about en­joy­ment for me and it’s not re­ally the be-all and end-all.

Li­cence

“Peo­ple have said, ‘you’ve al­most made it now’ but, in my mind, I haven’t made it yet. “I have to keep on work­ing hard and when I’ve played 300 or 400 games, then per­haps I can be­gin to say I’ve had a de­cent ca­reer and I’m do­ing okay.” Roberts made his Swansea de­but in Jan­uary un­der Car­los Car­val­hal but now finds him­self a key cog of the Pot­ter regime. In re­cent weeks, the de­fender has been given even more li­cence to roam for­ward and he was on tar­get in the 3-1 mid­week win over Black­burn, which left the Swans tenth in the ta­ble. Roberts hopes the goals keep on as Pot­ter con­tin­ues to steady the ship at the Lib­erty af­ter the gut-punch of last sea­son’s rel­e­ga­tion from the Premier League. “He has brought in some qual­ity play­ers and he’s do­ing a very good job at the mo­ment,” said Roberts. “The man­ager knows that it’s point­less stop­ping now. “We’ve only played 15 games in the Cham­pi­onship and hope­fully he can be at this club for a very long time – the good times need to re­turn.”

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

DOU­BLE DE­LIGHT: Con­nor Roberts cel­e­brates scor­ing for Swansea against Black­burn in mid­week and, in­set, fires home for Wales against the Repub­lic of Ire­land

IM­PACT: Swansea City man­ager Gra­ham Pot­ter

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