LONDON – Philippine Azkals goal-keeper Neil Etheridge is currently seeking a new club as a free agent, after Fulham FC released the Filipino-British player at the end of the 2013-14 season following the club's relegation to the Championship from the English Premier League.
In a phone interview, the 24-year-old footballer told ABS-CBN Europe he is unsure about the future, but is very eager to start his next challenge.
"I'm just looking forward to next season. I'm not sure where I'm going to be at the moment. My representatives are working very hard," said Etheridge.
"I've been speaking to a few teams and a few are interested, so it will be exciting to see where I go," he added. "At the moment, there's no definite answer to where I'll be playing my football next year."
When asked if he has thought about plying his trade in the United Football League (UFL) in the Philippines, Etheridge said: "I haven't really considered the Philippines, and I think people will understand my situation."
"The reason why I haven't chosen to go to the Philippines – and not just the Philippines, but Asia in general – is because I believe that, without being very critical, even though Asian football is very upcoming, I don't believe it's up to the standard of European football yet," he explained.
"I've spoken to my management and we're looking more into staying within Europe and within England. To maybe drop down a level is an option," he added.
"But for me next season, wherever I go, I'll give 100% to that team, whether it be as a number one, or going in as a number two, or even going in as a number three somewhere," he added. "It depends where it is, depends what club it is."
Etheridge played in the Philippines' opening match in the recent 2014 AFC Challenge Cup before a recurring thigh injury struck and forced him to sit out the rest of the tournament. He has since been working hard to regain full fitness and said he is doing well.
"At the moment, it's really good. I've been going to the gym every day and doing everything that I need to do to keep fit," said Etheridge. "I'm just looking forward to doing a medical – which I'm happy to do – and I'm sure I'll pass. I'm just waiting to see what happens."
"At the end of the day, it's about me giving 100% to the team I'm playing for and involved with. But the main point is that I'd like to play next season," he stressed.
Etheridge, who joined the West London club as a 16-year-old, featured once for the Fulham first team in a Europa League encounter against Denmark's Odense Boldklub in December 2011.
He also had loan spells at Leatherhead, Charlton Athletic, Bristol Rovers and Crewe Alexandra.