Ready And Set

Friday 5 October 2012 09:30

Giorgos Karagounis insists he is ready for the rigours of the Barclays Premier League after his brief bow against Manchester City last weekend.

The Greece legend arrived in SW6 early last month, but - by his own admission - was short of match action, having not featured since the summer’s European Championships.

However, he is now close to full fitness, and was handed a 10-minute stint against City on Saturday after Chris Baird was forced off with a late injury.

“I feel good and I’ve been working hard,” he said. “I’ve trained hard and played a practice match too to allow me to get used to the rhythm of play. The main focus for me now is to get used to the pace of the game, but I feel good and physically I’m ready.

“It was great to make my Premier League debut for the club, although I’m naturally disappointed that we lost the game. We could have taken a point from the match but in the end we didn’t and we should now look forward to the next match.

“All of the matches in the Premier League are difficult regardless of whether you play against the team in first place or last position in the league. They [Manchester City] are a good side and were worthy champions last season but I feel that there aren’t any easy games in the Premier League.”

Snapped up on a free transfer by Martin Jol, having left Panathinaikos at the end of last season, Karagounis has had plenty of time to get to know his Fulham teammates and adjust to his new surroundings.

And he’s been impressed by what he has seen so far, stating: “It’s like a real family here, everyone has been good to me and has helped me to settle in well. The whole squad is in fact like a family, there are good players and there’s a great atmosphere in the dressing room which helps new players coming to the Club integrate quickly.”

He continued: “We’re aiming to do as well as we can in the Premier League and to be as high up the table as possible, and hopefully do well in a cup also.

“We want to try to have a good season and to be able to reflect at the end of the campaign and assess how we have done. For now, I think we’re progressing well and we are playing good entertaining football and scoring a lot of goals, one of the highest-scoring teams in the Premier League, and this is a good basis to move forwards.”

The 35-year-old midfielder became the joint highest-capped player for Greece last June, scoring the only goal against Russia which saw them qualify for the Quarter-Finals of Euro 2012 on his 120th appearance.

He now looks set to break that record when Greece takes on Bosnia and Slovakia in two qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup during the forthcoming international break.

“I’ve been called up for Greece to play two big matches against Bosnia and Slovakia, two teams competing against us for top spot in the qualifying group,” said Karagounis. “It’s important to do well for the national team.

“In terms of the record, this is a great achievement of course, but for me what means more is that within the 120 appearances so far, we’ve won a European Championship and we have competed in three European Championships, in the last one we were among the best eight teams in Europe.

“We’ve played in one World Cup Finals and one Confederations Cup and what pleases me most is we’ve had more success with the Greece national team than ever before and have had some fantastic victories during this time.”