Stephen Kelly, last year’s first choice right back with Martin Jol, has signed a 2-year contract extension with the club. Making 33 appearances (24 league) last year, Kelly took over for an injured Zdenek Grygera last season and dug himself firmly into the first team. The 28 year old told the club’s website after signing:
I’m delighted that it’s sorted now and I can hopefully continue on from last year. It was a really good end to the season with the way we finished off, the way we were playing and I just hope we can continue on with that again. Last season was fantastic for me, playing pretty much every game from Christmas onwards and to cement myself as the number one right-back was great and hopefully I can continue on with that this season. To sign another contract here is fantastic. I’m delighted to be staying at the Club and I just want to carry on with the progression I’ve made over the last year or so.
Fans have mixed opinions on Kelly, and with Sascha Riether now on loan, it remains to be seen who will be at right back for the majority of the season. I, for one, will definitely admit I have my doubts about Kelly, especially in one-on-one situations, as he was beat time and time again leading directly to goals. I haven’t seen Riether yet, but it’d be nice if the club can get a more full-time right back to cement himself, much like Riise has done on the left. We’ll see how the spot plays out, but it’s an important one and one I still feel is a need, despite the fact Jol probably feels this suffices for now.
The last note on the right back spot: a lot of people have asked me in the last few weeks what the situation with Grygera is. From my understanding (and please someone if you know for sure I’m wrong, correct me) he is out of contract and not officially signed with the club. However, Jol said he’d have the chance to prove himself on the training ground that he’s fit and healthy to earn a new contract. So don’t be surprised to see Grygera resigned either this offseason or early into the season. But, if Jol determines he’s not fit or he doesn’t think he’ll stay healthy, he’ll probably leave on a free.
Something I failed to mention on the blog yesterday was the departure of Marcel Gecov. Not too much to say, other than the club most likely netted the same £750,000 they paid for him. He was sold to Belgian club KAA Gent, the same one Bryan Ruiz came from before Twente. The 24 year old Czech midfielder only made 2 appearances for Fulham, amounting to a whopping 7 total minutes played. It was a low-risk experiment and Martin Jol felt the time was up, and I’m sure Gecov did too. He was a promising talent but we wish him all the best in Belgium.