Steve Sidwell wants to take chance at Fulham

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The Independent Football

Steve Sidwell has revealed his relief at finally becoming a Fulham player as he prepares for what could be his full debut at Liverpool tomorrow night.

Sidwell is in line to replace Dickson Etuhu for the Barclays Premier League game at Anfield, should his fellow midfielder fail to recover from injury, having filled in for him for the final 27 minutes of Saturday's 2-0 win over Stoke.

Former Chelsea and Reading playmaker Sidwell's move from Aston Villa to Craven Cottage became a real saga, with the 28-year-old having looked set to join them last summer.

The move broke down after Roy Hodgson quit Fulham to take charge at Liverpool, while the arrival of Gerard Houllier at Villa gave Sidwell a chance to resurrect his career in the midlands.

After a brief run in the side, he was back on the fringes and looked certain to join West Ham earlier this month.

A last-minute snag saw the move collapse and talks with Wolves quickly followed before new Fulham boss Mark Hughes finally picked up where his predecessor had left off.

Sidwell told his new club's official website, "The move was a long time coming really, because I was hoping to come here in the summer, but for a few reasons it didn't happen.

"A fee was agreed but, when Roy Hodgson left, suddenly everything was a bit up in the air.

"That's what happens when you get a change of personnel.

"I got my head down though and kept my fingers crossed that something would happen in the future - which it did.

"I'm really pleased that it was something that the club looked at again and I'm delighted to finally be a Fulham player.

"This is a great place, with top facilities and a good group of players.

"There's a good team spirit and, as a result, I've managed to settle in very quickly."

Wandsworth-born Sidwell, who came through the ranks at Arsenal before joining Reading, admitted he jumped at the chance to move "home".

"I can't deny the fact that the chance to move back south - back home - was a key factor," he added.

"It wasn't only that though, because this is a club with traditions.

"It's run fantastically well and has made excellent progress in recent years.

"Fulham are well known for playing good football, and that suits me."

Sidwell was the heartbeat of the Reading side which gained promotion to the Premier League in 2006 but his career has stalled since his move to Chelsea three and a half years ago.

The former England Under-21 international is determined to make up for lost time, saying: "Since I moved from Chelsea to Villa, it has been a bit stop-start for me, and it's fair to say that things haven't quite gone to plan.

"I've had a few injuries as well which was frustrating, because I've always been quite lucky on that front - fingers crossed.

"I played every game at Reading and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I was then given a fantastic chance at Chelsea and played a fair amount of games there, but now I'm looking to show what I can do again."

He added: "There are a few here that probably hadn't had the luck they had hoped for at their previous club, but have come here and gone on to be very successful.

"That shows what this place is all about and the opportunities that you are given.

"I believe that I will get the chance here and, hopefully, given that chance, I can prove myself and take it with both hands."