At 37 he's reached the veteran stage of his playing career, but Wycombe Wanderers winger Gareth Ainsworth has no intention of hanging his boots up just yet despite having coaching credentials, management experience and, crucially perhaps, only six months left on his contract with the npower League 2 club.
Now at the ninth club of a career that has spanned two decades, Ainsworth's seven years at Queens Park Rangers saw him act as Player-Coach for a spell and he also had two stints as Caretaker Manager before leaving Loftus Road to join the Chairboys during last January's transfer window.
With a Uefa 'B' coaching licence to his name and ambitions to eventually work up to the Pro licence, he would be well qualified to move on to the management side of the game sooner rather than later. But as he told football-league.co.uk, those aspirations have been put on hold.
"You don't get three or four year contracts at my age," he noted, "but hopefully I'll get another deal when my current one expires and I definitely intend to go on playing. When I was caretaker at QPR I had lots of Managers - including Sir Alex Ferguson - tell me to play as long as I possibly could and I'm taking their advice.
"Management is hard, especially when you're also playing as I found out. I've got all the respect in the world for Player-Managers because they've got a really tough job. I'll think about management in the long term, but for now I'm happy at Wycombe just playing and helping the younger lads with advice but not having the responsibility of running coaching sessions or picking the team."
Ainsworth's Manager at Wycombe, Gary Waddock, is well known to the winger having been his boss at QPR during the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons. And Waddock was the biggest reason for Ainsworth's decision to move to Adams Park, where he is now club captain as he looks to help the Chairboys climb back up to League 1.
"Gary is a friend as well as my Manager," said Ainsworth, "and I love playing for him because he likes to play entertaining, attacking football and that's what my game's all about. He did a great job at Aldershot before he came to Wycombe and I think he's got the potential to manage at a much higher level.
"Hopefully he'll be managing Wycombe at one level higher next season, and after the disappointment of last season's relegation I think we've got a right good chance of bouncing straight back. We're in the Play-Off places but still under the radar, and at this stage of the season that's a good place to be.
"We had eight or nine new players come to the club in the close season and it took us a while to gel as a team, but that's happened now and we're playing some good attacking football. I'll see it as a failure if we're not in the top seven come the end of the season, and we'll be pushing to finish as high as we possibly can."
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