Elvis ready to rock

Tuesday 7 May 2002

Recent reserve matches have seen one name crop up on the score sheet fairly regularly. Elvis Hammond is one of a group of promising young players at Fulham who are waiting to be given their chance in the first team.

Looking back over Hammond's season, frustration is the one word that would appear to sum up his campaign. A good start to the season was cut short after Elvis fractured a bone in his foot. As the young striker admitted, his injury and the subsequent weeks of recovery hampered his promising progress.

However, Hammond now looks to have fully shaken off any lingering adverse effects and is now gearing up to challenge for a first team spot. Not bad for a player who, initially, had no designs on becoming a professional footballer.

"Playing football professionally wasn't really on my mind, it was something that just happened when I came out of school. Sean Davis was here already and he asked me to come down for a trial," Hammond revealed.

For a player who joined Fulham when he was 16, having come straight out of school. His footballing CV reads a bit like a footballing who's who.

"In Ghana I played with George Weah, Marcel Desailly, Roger Milla and Ibrahima Bakayoko.

"My agency knew Desailly and my family also knows him as well. So I was invited to play against Ghana and Burkina Faso in a few matches. I thought I did all right, it was pretty hot out there so I could only last 45 minutes."

With competition strong for first team places this season, the realist in Hammond admits that the chances of him displacing a player like Steve Marlet look distinctly slim. But Elvis is confident enough in his ability to not let his current squad standing affect his future aims.

It must clearly be a daunting prospect for a player coming up through the ranks to see the club's record signing occupying his desired place in the team. But the comforting fact remains that Jean Tigana would be more likely to give a young player like Hammond a chance than most other Premiership managers.

Nonetheless the most frustrating fact for Hammond is that he's just come back into form as the season is coming to a close.

"If there was a few more games I'd like to think that I could get close to a first team call up," said Hammond. "But seeing as it's so late in the season, I don't know what the Gaffer's going to do. It's entirely up to him who he picks but I think I'm ready.

"Next season I'm definitely looking to push for the first team. I'm 21 now and it's at this age where I need to be involved or just on the verge of being involved. "