Throughout this summer’s tournament, I’ll be keeping track of the Fulham players involved in the action. Expect a quick recap after each game involving a Fulham player, detailing the squad member’s performance (and any other impressions I got thrown in, most likely). So, to begin with, here’s a quick run-down of each and – hopefully – every Fulham player involved in play. If you spot an omission, please comment and I’ll add them to the list; it seems to be a pretty thin list, though.
Russia - Pavel Pogrebnyak
The Pog’s squad will be favorites to escape this relatively weak group, but they’ll have to work harder than some may think. A slightly-aging and domestic based squad could be the surprise of the tournament (again), or could crash and burn. Pogrebnyak’s generally been a non-starter for his nation, but he started their most recent friendly against Uruguay, so take that for what you will. It should be noted, however, that he was substituted and his replacement scored. Playing time is likely, but not guaranteed, for the big man.
No representatives from Group B, unfortunately, but Jol will, according to reports, be watching Luciano Narsingh of the Netherlands (if he makes the pitch), so you may want to do the same.
Republic of Ireland - Stephen Kelly and Damien Duff
Ireland’s Euro dream may only last three games, but Fulham boasts two players in this squad that will look to bring some pride to their nation, if not a knock-out round appearance. Kelly doesn’t seem to be a regular for the team, based on their past few matches, but depending on the game and any unforseen injuries, he could get some time. At the very least, he should be a bit-part player at least, but he may have played himself into a starting role towards the end of the season.
Damien Duff, on the other hand, will look to be one of the team’s star men. He’s been in pretty good form internationally lately from what I’ve seen, and he’ll want to do his absolute best as this could be his international swansong (at least in matches of any huge significance). Look to him to work the wing in a similar manner as at Fulham, but most likely with much more defensive responsibility due to Ireland’s tactics and the strength of their opponents. Ireland probably won’t go far, but at least they’re here at all. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
No one in Group D either, with David Stockdale unlucky to not make the England team over a teenager that’s only ever played in League Two, but I suppose Woy wanted to give the youngster an experience since he doesn’t forsee game time for him anyway. There were also rumblings about Kacaniklic sneaking into Sweden’s squad to add some depth at wing, but alas that didn’t happen either.
So, only three players to watch by my count, but I’ll also be watching and reporting on Dempsey’s performances for the USA once World Cup qualification starts later in June. I’m very excited for this tournament and the summer as a whole for Fulham. Hopefully it will provide good soccer and good transfers!
Till next time, and as I said, feel free to comment with corrections, omissions, or opinions.