Rufus Brevett exclusive

Thursday 28 March 2002

Rufus Brevett spoke at Thursday's press conference about how much of an inspiration it had been for the squad to see Club Captain Chris Coleman make his long awaited comeback in the reserves on Wednesday night.

Coleman played for forty-five minutes in what was his first competitive match for fourteen months. With all the hype surrounding the game it could easily have ended disappointingly, but the Wales International came through the match unscathed, and the following morning was suffering only the aches and strains that would be expected after such a long lay-off.

Brevett admitted that Coleman still exerted a big influence in the dressing room despite his injury, and that everybody had got a lift out of his recovery

"It was a big boost to the squad to see him running out on Wednesday," he said, "He's had a really, really bad time with the injury, and to see him come through it is fantastic. It just shows what kind of bloke he is that he hasn't given up and he's just carried on battling.

"The medical staff have been magnificent with him; he's been working extremely hard, coming at eight o'clock every day and not leaving until late. He's worked hard and he deserves to get back to the level he was at.

"Most of the first team players went to watch him. I think there's a feeling in the squad that we want to make sure we're still in the Premiership for him next season. We were in Division One when he had the accident, so it would be nice if we're in the top flight when he comes back.

"He's a brilliant character to have around the place, he's always talking, always laughing and joking. Even with his problems, he's still encouraging and motivating everybody. It's good to have him about the place."

Brevett went on to talk about the Easter programme of games. He reiterated the message that it's time for the players to dig deep and show that they are no pushovers.

"Southampton and West Ham are both massive games for us," he said, "And we'll be looking to get the six points and put the bad run behind us. When you've had the results that we've had, you're going to lose a little confidence, but a win on Saturday will lift it right back up again.

"Gordon Strachan's done a very good job at Southampton. They seem very strong now and play very well as a team, but all we can do is keep playing the sort of football the Gaffer wants us to play and hopefully create a few chances and put them away.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing now, we've all got to work hard and show that as well as playing nice football we can get stuck in and win our individual battles. But there's no problem with the attitude in the team, if there's a tackle to be made, there's no one who's going to shirk it. We're all in it together and we all support each other.

"What we've got to do now is concentrate one hundred per cent and make sure that there are no more silly mistakes. We do play good football, although we certainly didn't against Tottenham, and we've got to keep on doing that and keep battling our way through to the end of the season.

"Training has been difficult this week with everybody being away on international duty, but we've been doing a lot of work on closing down and on our finishing, so hopefully that will stand us in good stead. With a bit of luck we can get through this weekend six points better off, and all this will be behind us."

Fulham had a fairly comfortable win over Southampton earlier in the season with a brace of goals from Steed Malbranque. It was Gordon Strachan's first game in charge of the Saints and there is no doubt that he has transformed the team since then. As Rufus Brevett said, a battling performance is needed on Saturday, and how timely it would be if Fulham could make it their first "double" of the season.