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Fulham reckon hero Saha can be world class

last updated Tuesday 12th September 2000, 12:34 AM
Fulham assistant manager Christian Damiano has tipped Louis Saha to become an international star for World Cup and European champions France. Signed in the summer from Metz for £2.1 million, the 22-year-old striker scored a first-half hat-trick in his club's 5-1 win against Barnsley yesterday, taking his total this season to seven goals in six games.

Damiano, a key figure in his country's youth development system before coming to England, said: 'Saha could play for the French national team if he continues to develop and works hard on his game.'

Saha's first goal was a close-range header after five minutes. He scored his second, in the 29th minute, when a Barry Hayles shot rebounded to him off goalkeeper Kevin Miller. The third was a penalty after Bjarne Goldbaek was felled by Miller in first-half injury time.

Saha said: 'I would love to play for France but I have to walk before I can run. I came here to improve and things are very good at the moment. My strength is my speed and I am enjoying the space I am getting. I want to score 20 goals this season.'

That target should be well within reach judging by the number of chances Fulham - the only team in the League with a 100 per cent record - created against Barnsley despite the absence of John Collins.

On-loan midfielder Fabrice Fernandes hit a post, Hayles was unsuccessful with five good opportunities, Lee Clark was put clean through and so was substitute Eddie Lewis.

As Barnsley manager Dave Bassett said: 'It was a doddle for Fulham because of the score at half-time. When they went 3-0 up the deck chairs and cigars were out and we had a torrid time.'

Hayles, an improved player since the arrival of manager Jean Tigana, got on the scoresheet by converting Saha's cross after 59 minutes and received a standing ovation when he was taken off.

Tigana, with tomorrow's game against Burnley in mind, made three substitutions and Barnsley took advantage by scoring a consolation goal through Matt Appleby. But Fulham's chances kept coming and substitute Luis Boa Morte, on loan from Southampton, nipped in to score from a tight angle.

Damiano said: 'We got the players back in training two weeks early and that is starting to show, it is making things easier for us. We did not expect to do this well but the players are enjoying themselves and have joined in the project to make Fulham great.'
Source Soccernet By Leo Spall
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