Neil Etheridge has spoken of his desire to make a quick return to the Premier League.
The Cardiff City goalkeeper – who was arguably the club’s most consistent performer during a season that ended in relegation two weeks ago – is desperate to play again at the top level.
Etheridge has been linked with both West Ham and Brighton and although the 29-year-old has two years left on his current contract, manager Neil Warnock has said if the club received an offer of £20m, he would personally chauffeur Etheridge to the buying club.
Currently on a break in the Philippines – the national side he represents thanks to a Filipino mother – Etheridge told the media: “I want to go back to play in the Premier League. I feel it’s where I belong.
“To have the opportunity to go back in the Premier League is something I’ll have to consider extremely. I’ll think about it, but ultimately, it’s not my decision.
“Obviously, Cardiff have given me the platform to go and play in the Championship and the Premier League. But it was a massive disappointment with the club that we got relegated.”
Etheridge’s form last season – as well as his fitness record – was such that he ended up playing in all 38 Premier League matches. He kept 10 clean sheets and made 141 saves, second only to West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski.
It meant he was an easy choice as the club’s player of the season and he added: “My first season, I didn’t know what to expect at the start.
“To play a full season, 38 games is something I didn’t expect. But now, looking back, winning player of the year is a massive achievement as well.”
Etheridge has also re-affirmed his commitment to international football with the Philippines – even if it means disrupting the start of his next club season.
The Bluebirds No.1 has pledged himself to playing for his country in their World Cup qualifiers in September.
Last season, he made himself unavailable for the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates due to club commitments, but insists he will be back in national colours for the team known as the Azkals, – the street dogs – a month into next season.
“Of course, I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup qualifiers,” he said.
“People have said, ‘Is he just going to play Premier League Football and just drop the Azkals?’ No, because I’ve been a part of that team for 11 years, and you don’t just drop something after 11 years.
“Right now, we want to try to qualify for the World Cup. Now we want to try to get to the next Asian Cup and do better.
“I think everyone involved in that team wants the national team, the Azkals, to move forward, but that needs to not just come from the players and the coaching staff. That needs to come from everyone behind the scenes all the way to the top.”