Finns banks on home result

Wednesday 11 September 2002

After a hectic summer of World Cup exploits, Steve Finnan returned to more run-of-the-mill international action last weekend as he travelled out to Moscow with the Republic of Ireland squad for their opening Euro 2004 qualification match.

Mick McCarthy's men ended up losing the match 4-2. Nonetheless, Finns was at hand to supply Clinton Morrison with the final pass as Ireland scored their second goal of the encounter.

"Obviously losing the first qualifying match isn't nice but we're still confident that we can get through," said Finnan. "I don't think it was a case of a World Cup hangover; we won a friendly against Finland. It was just a stop-and-start performance from us; going two goals down didn't help."

Finnan, along with Fulham's other international weekend players, will now have the daunting task of facing last season's bogey side, Tottenham. With much of the modern game's concerns centred around players' fitness levels and the number of games they are required to play - Finnan must surely go down as one of the most active players in the top flight.

It was, perhaps, a blessing disguise that he picked up an ankle injury, which resulted in him missing a number of Intertoto Cup matches. Did the injury end up having a positive effect on his overall fitness level?

"I worked hard in pre-season to make my first game," explained Finnan. "I didn't think I was going to make it because I missed three weeks through injury. But the games and training I had at the World Cup helped me, and hopefully the fact that I didn't play too many pre-season games will help me out towards the end of the season.

"I can remember the games against Spurs last season, especially the one at White Hart Lane where we got beaten 4-0. It was very disappointing, but I think there were some positives to take from the two following games against them.

"They are at the top of the table at the moment, so they won't want to give that up. It will be a tough game for us but we've already proven that we're a good side at Loftus Road so the lads are confident we can get three points."

As was the case last season, it seemed like almost every new player was making his debut against Fulham.

That trend certainly seems to have followed the Whites into the current campaign with Massimo Maccarone making his home debut in the match at Middlesbrough, Lee Hughes making his second debut for West Brom and now Robbie Keane looks set to play his first game in a Spurs shirt.

Keane will be no stranger to Finnan, especially after this summer's events. However, being diplomatic as ever, Finnan was not drawn on whether he now knows Keane's game.

He said, "Robbie's a very good player, that was clear to see over the summer. He's going to want to impress on his debut so we'll have our work cut out to keep him in check."

Only restricted view seats remain for Fulham's first London Derby of the season against Spurs at Loftus Road on Wednesday evening.

The last remaining tickets are on sale from the Ticket Office in the FFC Club shop in Fulham Road up until 3pm on Wednesday afternoon.

Tickets will then be on sale from the Loftus Road ticket office from 3pm to 5pm.

Tickets are on sale to season ticket holders and members only.