Ian McCulloch brings you yet another Fulham Today EXCLUSIVE...
With a fine performance against Newcastle on Saturday, Sean Davis capped off what was an outstanding couple of weeks for him with an inspired display at the heart of a superb Fulham midfield.
By his own admission, he has struggled to recapture the form that had made him such an outstanding prospect last season, and there were many who thought that there would be no place for him in Saturday's first team, despite his excellent performances for the England U21 team. Sylvain Legwinski had played so well in his position in the two-nil defeat of West Ham, that it seemed unlikely that Jean Tigana would want to disrupt the crucial engine-room of the team.
As it worked out, Sean was recalled to his central role and Legwinski had an excellent game on the right of mid-field. Looking back at the season so far, Sean is remarkably frank about how things have been going, and readily admits that he hasn't been playing as well as he would have liked.
"I'm only young," he said, "It's my first season in the Premiership, and I've still got loads to learn. I'm inexperienced at this level. I've just got to keep working hard on the training ground and keep learning things off the likes of Lee Clark and the Gaffer, and then hopefully it will come right."
Sean readily acknowledges that coming under the influence of two great international mid fielders like Jean Tigana and David Platt is bound to benefit his game.
"It helps that these fantastic managers have all played in my position. I've been lucky with the others as well. I've worked under Ray Wilkins, Paul Bracewell and now Jean Tigana. It all helps me develop my game. They know my position inside out, so they give me lots of help and advice, what to do, what to practice on. Hopefully if I can take it all on board and work hard I can improve, and get better and better as the season goes on. As I've said, I am inexperienced at this level, I just want to play as many games as I can and get more and more used to it."
Being a part of the successful England U21 team that last week qualified for next year's European Championships must be a tremendous boost. Christian Damiano has said in the past that one game at international level is worth ten domestically in terms of a young player's development. There must be many positives that can be taken back to club football.
"It's a long season," Davis said, "And then at the end of it there's the Championships, and everyone wants to go away and be part of that. I've no idea what it will be like, but it will a fantastic experience for me if I'm selected. There's a few more friendly games coming up, so I'm looking forward to those and I hope I'm selected and that I can do well.
"I enjoyed my time with England and I think I played quite well in the first game and worked hard in the second, so I really hope I can bring that form back to Fulham and keep doing it week in, week out."
It's taken Fulham, as a Club, the first ten or so games to get the feel of the Premiership. Sean spoke about his own experiences.
"The difference is in the first touch of everyone compared to the First Division, and the way that they keep possession so well. The players are a lot sharper, a lot quicker. You need to think more about what you're doing, be more aware of what's going on around you, but you've got less time to do it, so you've really got to be sharp and you've also got to be really fit. If you're not one hundred per cent fit then you're going to struggle.
"Arsenal were the best team we've played this season, and really, every player in that side was top class, from Pires through to Vierra. They were so sharp you could hardly get near them, you always seemed to be at the back of them. They made two substitutions at the end and brought Bergkamp and Wiltord on which shows you how much depth they've got.
"It wasn't exactly a wake-up call to the Premiership, because we've always known it was going to be difficult, but it did show us what we had to do. I think we've done well for a newly promoted team, in some of the games we haven't scored that crucial first goal and we've been punished for silly mistakes, but we're on a run now. We've turned the corner, are scoring goals and winning games, and hopefully we can keep that going and really push ourselves up the table.
"For my part I'm going to carry on putting it in at training, and do my best and hopefully it will all go on from there."
Watching Sean up against a rampant Newcastle forward line containing the likes of Shearer, Bellamy, Robert and Solano, it's a testament to him and his colleagues how ordinary they ended up making the Magpies look. As we look forward to more of the same soon, we also wish Sean luck with his burgeoning international career. I think, and I'm sure someone out there will correct me if I'm wrong, Sean's goal against Holland was the first England goal scored by a Fulham player since Allan Clarke scored twice against Portugal for the U23's in 1969. A remarkable achievement.