0 users online

Inamoto relief at instant Fulham impact

last updated Thursday 01st August 2002, 10:40 AM
Junichi Inamoto said today that being given his Fulham debut only two weeks after joining the club was a huge relief.

The Japan midfielder, who is on a one-year loan from J-League side Gamba Osaka, played the second half of his new team's 1-0 Intertoto Cup semi-final, first-leg win against French side Sochaux last night and supplied the cross for Sean Davis' injury-time goal.

At Arsenal last season he had to wait four months to be given that long in a competitive game, eventually making a total of just four appearances in a year with the Gunners.

Fulham manager Jean Tigana has promised that the 22-yearold will have a better chance of playing with his new club, and last night's appearance went some way to confirming that.

Inamoto said: "It was a relief to play. I was losing a bit of confidence before the World Cup finals but that tournament gave me confidence back. I really hope I can bring that to Fulham and play well for them.

"I wasn't sure I was going to play for 45 minutes and I was happy for that and to hear the home supporters cheering me."

Inamoto received a great reception from the Fulham fans, at their temporary home of Loftus Road for the first time last night, and every touch was met with great anticipation.

He showed glimpses of the skills that made him a star for Japan earlier in the summer but also looked a little off the pace at times.

Tigana said he needs time to get match-fit again, but the midfielder still lofted in the 92nd-minute, far-post corner for Davis to smash in his first goal for Fulham in 15 months.

That it was left to the England Under-21 midfielder to get the goal which keeps alive Fulham's hopes of winning the cup and the place in the Uefa Cup that goes with it summed up their night.

Tigana's team had the better of the chances and possession throughout, but the goalscoring problems of last season are still haunting them and it is no surprise that an established striker is top of his wanted list.

Fulham hope to bring in at least two new players in the next month, and want to provide cover for Steve Finnan at right-back - who will miss the start of the season with an ankle injury - as well as assistance for strikers Steve Marlet and Louis Saha.

Finnan twisted an ankle during Saturday's friendly against non-league Carshalton, and will miss the opening game against Bolton on 17 August.

Tigana admitted: "It's not possible for Steve to play the first game in the championship, and that's a big problem for me. He might be able to come back to training in about nine days' time."
Source This is London
Since 1998
"It's been updated!"