By David Williams
Steve Cooper insists it took no arm-twisting to ensure Wayne Routledge, Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Nathan Dyer and Erwin Mulder stayed on for Swansea City’s promotion push.
The five players were all due to be out of contract by June 30, which would have placed a doubt over their availability for the remainder of this extended season.
Their deals have all been renewed until 4 August, the date of the Championship play-off final, but manager Cooper says it was a painless process even though injuries could leave them in a vulnerable position if they eventually turn to other clubs.
“There was no persuasion, it’s been a very smooth process,” said Cooper, whose team host Luton Town on Saturday in their first home game since the season resumed.
“There was never any concerns. There’s been no negativity, everyone is completely committed to this cause for the rest of the season.
“I know there’s been a few stories around the Premier League and the Championship about contracts running out, but ours has been a very straightforward process. It’s never given me a headache.”
Charlton striker Lyle Taylor has refused to play for the club as he is out of contract and has interest from Galatasaray and Rangers.
But Routledge, Naughton and Mulder were all part of the Swans squad that won 3-0 at Middlesbrough last Saturday as Cooper’s team made a fast start to the run-in.
They now face a Luton side who are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, while there are a number of important fixtures in the promotion picture over the course of the coming weekend.
With so many sides having something on the line during the frenetic closing weeks of the extended 2019-20 campaign, and a level playing field with games being played behind closed doors Cooper admits the sense of the unknown adds to the sense of intrigue and excitement
“We’re massively excited. We can’t wait for the games to come,” said Cooper.
“I think the picture will change like it did last weekend. You can easily look at what else is going on, but you’ve got to look after yourselves.
“There’s no real form, although everyone’s played a game now. There’s no real rhythm to the games yet because we’ve only played one.
“This saturday will be no different. We’re at home, yes, there’s no fans, but we’re in familiar surroundings. We’re right at the back end of the season with so much to play for.
“We’re going into a unique period. We’ll be playing every few days and sometimes that can happen in the Championship where you play three in a week or six in a month, but there’s normally a rest after it.
“This isn’t the case now. There will have to be a bit of planning in terms of rotation. That might even go into a particular game plan and thinking about particular changes at half time, but there has to be decision made off the cuff.”