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Steve Sidwell relishing return to Fulham

last updated Monday 02nd January 2017, 12:14 PM

Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell
Fulham midfielder
Steve Sidwell
Steve Sidwell
Steve Sidwell relishing return to Fulham with Brighton and Hove Albion

Five years ago today, Steve Sidwell and Bobby Zamora scored late goals for Fulham in a 2-1 win against Arsenal at Craven Cottage.

A hip injury has forced Zamora to retire, but former Fulham and Albion team-mate Sidwell remains an important part of the Seagulls' push for the Premier League.

Just turned 34, the midfielder is on 399 career starts. Craven Cottage would be an appropriate place to reach a landmark, but Sidwell will probably have to wait to bring the 400 up with Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood an emerging influence.

Either way, Sidwell is looking forward to a nostalgic return to old ground by the Thames.

When he joined Fulham in January 2011 from Aston Villa, it was initially on a six-month contract.

He ended up staying for three-and-a-half years, scoring 14 goals in 92 Premier League appearances and playing for them in the Europa League.

"It's good to go to back to one of my former clubs," Sidwell said. "I've done it several times now.

"It will be nice to go back and I have very fond memories of playing at the Cottage, it’s a lovely place to go. But I'll be in the away dressing room and fully fighting for the cause.

"I can picture it now, Brighton fans taking that whole section behind the goal.

It will be a good game, taking place at the turn of the year, and I have been very impressed with them.

"I've been to see them a couple of times this year and I thought they were one of the best teams we've played this year football wise."

At the end of November at the Amex, Albion mounted a second half recovery, goals by Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory against a Fulham side that sparkled for 45 minutes.

Sidwell said: "In the first half it felt like I was playing back in the Premier League and if they had taken their chances they could've been 3-0 up.

"So we know that we need to be on top form defensively and attacking wise as well.

"They had a really good start to the season and they probably showed to people that last year (finished 20th) was a blip for them. They went on a really good run of playing good football and people said Fulham could be a force this year.

"Then they slowly tailed off and are coming back in. From what I've seen and performance wise, they've been relatively sound throughout the season and not taken their chances."

The same cannot be said of Albion, another comeback from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in the last away game at Birmingham providing a prime example.

If Fulham are to inflict a first defeat in 18 league matches they must find a way past a resilient back four and Sidwell's fellow Fulham old boy David Stockdale.

Links with today's opponents abound in the Albion camp. Chris Hughton's assistant, Paul Trollope, helped Fulham to the Premier League in his playing days.

Hughton's coach, Paul Nevin had a "watershed moment" under Jean Tigana as he worked his way up through the academy system to become reserve team manager, alongside current Wales boss Chris Coleman.

Source Andy Naylor at The Argus
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