Sylvain's Leg Worry

Monday 14 January 2002

From Fulham Today's Ian McCulloch

The sight of Sylvain Legwinski bursting out of midfield and powering in on goal has provided some of the most exhilarating moments of the season so far. His reading of the game, and the way that he is able to find space and anticipate his colleague's through balls has been first class.

There is also a feeling that we have yet to see the best of the Frenchman. Despite coming across as a true "box to box" player, he has been hampered by a niggling injury that has meant his running and speed is not all that it should be. A pelvic problem that has been bothering him for some time means that there is a lot more to come once he regains his full fitness.

After goals like his thrillers against Wycombe and Newcastle, it's an exciting prospect. Unfortunately he took another knock against Middlesbrough on Saturday and was substituted in the 36th minute."

"I took a kick," he said, walking gingerly out of the Cottage after the game. "And it left a lot of bruising. I found it difficult to run after that, so I really had no other option than to come off.

"It was from a tackle, the guy kicked me at the top of the back of my leg, and then I could feel it all the time. I tried to run it off but it was too difficult to continue."

Whether playing in the anchor role in front of the defence or as a raiding midfielder on the right, he will be sorely missed if he isn't available for Tuesday's FA Cup replay against Wycombe. Sylvain wasn't sure if the game would come too early for him.

"I don't think it's too serious, just some bruising, but I'll have to have a scan just to see what sort of treatment is needed. At this stage I don't know if I'll be fit for Tuesday, I suppose it looks doubtful, but you never know."

It was a very pleasing win against a tough, uncompromising Middlesbrough side, and at times the Whites looked back to their breathtaking best. As always, the lack of a finish on several key occasions meant that the victory wasn't as comprehensive as it should have been, but it left the whole team in an upbeat mood, even the injured Frenchman, who has clearly set his sights on the upper reaches of the table.

"It was a very important win for us," he said, "It puts us right back up there in contention for a top-seven place, and it's all looking very exciting. I was having treatment during the second half, so I didn't see much of the game, but I understand that we played some very good football."

The only real negative was the Boro goal. What was Sylvain's perspective on the mix-up?

"They had a free-kick, and I thought that Edwin had the ball and he didn't and I let my man go. It was a complete misunderstanding between the two of us. It's one of those things that happens in football at times, but not too often I hope!"

He gave a wry smile, and limped off towards his car.

No report on the game would be complete without a mention of the fine performance that the Cravenettes put in at half time. Their efforts to prevent Boro goalkeeper Mark Crossley from practising were superb, but their inability to distract him completely from what he was doing definitely calls into question the quality of his eyesight!