New players boost Fulham

Friday 24 August 2001

Fulham captain Andy Melville says the influx of new players is inspiring the Premiership newcomers to achieve new high standards.

Fulham were linked to Inter Milan's Turkish international striker Hakan Sukur in Friday's newspapers after having a £10.5 million bid for Lyon's Steve Marlet rejected earlier this week.

But Melville insists there has been no complaints so far from the present strike force of Louis Saha - three goals in two games - and Barry Hayles, who scored his first top flight goal against Sunderland midweek.

"The manager wants to bring people in to improve the squad," Melville said after training. The strikers have been working really well together. They have been unplayable at the moment and it's a nightmare to play against to play against them in training.

"But nearly every day we've had someone connected to us or signed for the club which which spurs everyone else on to keep their places. People get on with it and the club is going from strength to strength."

Melville is execting a tough test with the visit of Derby County on Saturday after the London side's last-gasp 3-2 victory over the Rams in the Worthington Cup last season when Saha notched twice.

He added: "It will be a difficult game because we only scored in the last minute against them last season in the Worthington Cup to win. It was a close encounter last time and they will be up for revenge.

"I'm expecting a tough game off the front two Ravanelli and Christie, who scored against us last season."

New Fulham signing Sylvain Legwinski is set replace the injured Lee Clark and make his debut against Derby. The French midfielder arrived at Craven Cottage from Bordeaux this week for £3.3million as the latest addition to the squad.

The 27-year-old, who has signed a four-year contract with Fulham, will be reunited with John Collins in midfield who he starred alongside in Monaco's French league title winning team in 1997.

Tigana was manager of Monaco then and has brought in Legwinski as the latest French addition to Tigana's squad following Alain Goma, Steed Malbranque and Saha.

Clark has not shaken off an Achilles injury and along with striker Luis Boa Morte misses the visit of the Rams.