Clark brings glory-grabbing John down to earth

Derby County 1 - Fulham 1
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The Independent Football

Sympathy for Craig Bellamy after his tantrum-driven fall-out with Newcastle may be thin on the ground, but if there is someone who might know how the Welshman feels it is Fulham's Collins John.

Sympathy for Craig Bellamy after his tantrum-driven fall-out with Newcastle may be thin on the ground, but if there is someone who might know how the Welshman feels it is Fulham's Collins John.

The Liberian-born striker, only just turned 19 but already a senior Dutch international, claims he is being played out of position and is not afraid to tell the manager so. Sounds familiar? Signed from Twente Enschede a year ago, John burst into Chris Coleman's side towards the end of last season, scoring four goals despite only three appearances in the starting line-up.

This season, however, his wish to be leading the Fulham line has not been granted and Coleman admits that while hardly in the Bellamy bracket John has not been slow to spell out his frustration. When he ripped off his shirt to reveal a message scrawled across his vest after sparing the Premiership side a Cup upset at Pride Park on Saturday, he must have hardly dare ask what it said.

In fact, it was nothing more than an innocent dedication to his mother, although still a reminder to Coleman that he has on his hands a somewhat volatile talent, something which brought some candid words from his team-mate Lee Clark afterwards.

"He has a bit of arrogance - maybe too much at times - and he's got to realise there are other parts of the game that are important apart from the glory and scoring goals," Clark said. "He can learn from Andy Cole and learn to do the stuff that all the top players do at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. If he's not prepared to do the hard work, he can have all the ability in the world and it won't get him anywhere."

Coleman was more diplomatic. "He is a very exciting talent," Coleman said. "He has pace and strength and some of the goals he scores in training are incredible, but he just needs to learn that the team comes first.

"He prefers to play down the middle but for the team I want him to play on the right. Andy Cole plays down the middle and he has done a great job for us and until he starts doing otherwise he is the main man.

"All players throw their toys out of the pram from time to time, but Collins knows what is expected of him and he has come on today and done the business." That "business" was done in less than a minute, in fact, John's first touch being to get on the end of Mark Pembridge's long pass to poke home the goal that keeps Fulham in the draw today.

Coleman admitted to being relieved while his counterpart, George Burley, was disappointed not to come out on top. Derby, fifth in the Championship, had gone ahead when Marcus Tudgay, on as a substitute, turned home Tommy Smith's low cross 11 minutes into the second half, and were denied a winner by Edwin van der Sar's fine save from the same player.

"We more than matched Fulham today and we are far from giving up this tie," Burley said. "We are a little disappointed not to go through today."

Goals: Tudgay (56) 1-0; John (71) 1-1.

Derby County (4-4-2): Camp; Kenna, Huddlestone, Mills, Johnson; Reich (Tudgay, h-t), Idiakez, Taylor, Bisgaard; Smith, Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Grant (gk), Junior, Bolder, Boertien.

Fulham (4-3-3): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Rosenior; Legwinski, Pembridge, Clark; Radzinski (John, 70), Cole, Boa Morte. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), McBride, Jensen, Pearce.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Derby Idiakez; Fulham Cole.

Man of the match: John.

Attendance: 22,040.

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