Forced to bide his time on the sidelines as a result of injury, having featured in Fulham’s last three matches Ashkan Dejagah is happy to be finally playing his part.
And the 26-year-old has impressed in those three outings, his stinging strike in the defeat of Aston Villa led to Chris Baird’s winner, while on Saturday he provided the perfect pass for Sascha Riether to drill across the Everton goalmouth for Steve Sidwell to sweep home.
“It’s just great to be out there and involved in games,” said Ashkan to fulhamfc.com. “It was a very difficult start for me, but thankfully that is behind me now. I feel fit and, although I probably need a few more games to catch up properly, I’m getting stronger every week.
“The Manager knows what I can bring to the Team and, early on, he said that he thought I could provide many assists – he wants me to make a difference in the final third. Obviously I can do a lot more, but it’s been nice to be involved in some of the goals lately, albeit in a very small way.”
Direct, skilful and hard-working, the Iran international looks set to become a useful outlet with his appearances from the bench catching the eye in recent weeks. Comfortable on either flank, although arguably more effective down the right, the player is an undoubted threat.
“It’s been a good couple of weeks for me, but most importantly the Team has been doing well,” he said. “We started the week in seventh place, which is really good. When you consider the fact we have also been a little unlucky, perhaps we could be even higher right now.
“If you look at the table, we’re only two points off Everton in fourth place. But I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves because I think it’s best to look at the positives. We’re playing some really good football, scoring goals and getting points.
“We have good momentum at the moment and we want to keep that for as long as possible. We have some tough fixtures coming up, but in honesty, they are all difficult games in this league. I think we can do well though.”
Sidwell’s late strike on Saturday rescued a point for the Whites – a performance Dejagah insists underlined the character of Martin Jol’s side.
“Everton probably should have won the game, but as we all know, football doesn’t always work out like that,” added Ashkan. “I’m sure they [Everton] will consider themselves unlucky, but we’ve been in that same position this season, losing points when we should have taken more.
“Having conceded late goals in recent weeks, it was nice to get one for ourselves. I think it was a very important point, we worked extremely hard for it. Okay, at 2-1 Everton had chances to go further in front with Mark Schwarzer making two or three really good saves. But we kept pushing right until the end, and thankfully we were rewarded with a late equaliser.
“Everton are a really good side, they have been one of the best so far. They have some very good players and they made life uncomfortable for us at times. Some teams might have rolled over or caved in under the pressure, but we kept our heads and kept the belief that we could take something – for me, that shows a lot of character.
“We know that we can play good football, and with the spirit that we showed, that is a great mix. This Team has many strengths and we want to build on what we have done so far.”