JC to fight for place

Monday 2 September 2002

Fulham midfielder John Collins says he is prepared to be patient as he fights for a place in Jean Tigana's team.

The former Scotland international, who played under Tigana at Monaco, was one of the Frenchman's first signings after he took over at the club in 2000.

Collins joined from Everton for £1.6million and quickly became a fixture in the side when he was fit.

But he has only been used in four Intertoto Cup games this campaign and has not featured in the Premiership.

He said: "Obviously I am disappointed if I am not playing but I will just keep working hard and if the team need me I will be there.

"It is a long, hard season with many games, particularly with the European matches we have had. But the most important thing is that the team is playing well and winning."

Fulham's season started on 6 July with the InterToto Cup and they have already played 11 competitive matches - with extra games now to come after their InterToto triumph secured a UEFA Cup place.

Collins, 34, faces added competition for a first-team place this season from Japan World Cup star Junichi Inamoto and the return to fitness of Lee Clark.

But Fulham's first defeat of the season at West Brom on Saturday, when they lost 1-0 to a Darren Moore goal, may have improved their chances of playing as it was blamed on fatigue.

Tigana said: "The truth was that we looked tired. I know it's odd to be saying that at this stage of the season, but we've had a long and hard InterToto campaign.

"We will get better and remember that prior to West Brom we had been unbeaten in 10 successive games - it had to end."

Meanwhile, the coach of Fulham's UEFA Cup opponents, Hajduk Split, today warned them they face a difficult tie. Ahead of the first leg in Croatia on 19 September, Zoran Vulic said: "I think we can eliminate Fulham. We have equal chances. If we win the first leg, it will be very close."