Fit and ready to go

Friday 5 July 2002

Returning from the squad's pre-season training camp in Exeter, John Collins, as usual, was taking a very pragmatic approach to Fulham's Intertoto Cup match against FC Haka at Craven Cottage.

Haka have already started their season and are sitting comfortably in third position, having already played 12 games. With Fulham yet to play a competitive match, the advantage of being match fit will clearly rest with the Finnish side.

Collins, nonetheless, was keen to point out that Fulham's fitness levels are not as far behind as some people would believe:

"We had a few weeks off but we're now back in training and getting ready for the Intertoto matches. All of the boys have come back looking really fit, they've obviously looked after themselves in the close-season.

"Our fitness is at a good level but obviously the match fitness is not going to be there because we haven't played any matches yet. But we've worked hard in training and have started playing some practice matches.

"First of all you've got the get the base fitness, there's no point in going straight in and playing at a high tempo - that's how you can pick up injuries. You have to build your fitness up slowly, which is exactly what we've done."

FC Haka is hardly a household name in England, so is Collins any more familiar with the opposition than anyone else?

"To be honest I don't know too much about them but we'll watch a video on Saturday morning. What we do know is that they've played a lot of games, their season is already under way so their match-fitness is going to be decent. But we're looking to win both games and progress to the next round.

"Usually at around this time we would have been playing some friendly matches, but the Intertoto games have more of a edge to them, so it's good for the players."