Duff rejoins Hodgson for European expedition
Wednesday 19 August 2009
Damien Duff is convinced he has joined a club going places after signing a three-year deal at Fulham. The fee with Newcastle for the 30-year-old has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in the region of £4m as the North-east club come to terms with the cost of relegation to the Championship.
Having made his breakthrough under the Cottagers' manager, Roy Hodgson, when they were both at Blackburn, the Republic of Ireland winger Duff believes Fulham have a squad capable of building on last season's seventh-place finish in the Premier League, which secured a crack at the new Europa League. "Fulham had a fantastic season last year and I know, having spoken to the manager in recent days, that the club's ambitions remain high and I am looking forward to the challenges," Duff said yesterday.
Fulham opened the new Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win at Portsmouth and will face Russian side Amkar Perm tomorrow night in the first leg of their play-off to reach the group stages of the Europa League before hosting west London rivals Chelsea on Sunday.
The Fulham manager is in no doubt Duff still has what it takes to make an impact in the top flight. "I am delighted to add a player of Damien Duff's calibre to our squad, and welcome the further midfield options he provides us with," Hodgson said. "I have known Damien for over a decade since he broke into the first team at Blackburn when I was manager, so I am fully aware of his qualities and I am looking forward to working with him again."
Fulham are also hopeful of completing a deal for South Africa midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi, once a work permit has been rubber-stamped.
With the chance of a sustained European campaign, extra numbers would seem an advantage. However, Fulham's captain, Danny Murphy, feels less is more.
"You can have the best manager in the world, but you can't keep everyone happy," the midfielder said. "How do the young lads get their chance if you are forever building squads of 25 to 30 senior players? It is good if you have a decent small squad of some quality and young lads chomping at the bit to get in as well."
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