Wayne Bridge completed his first 90 minutes of football on loan to Fulham on Monday night and believes Fulham can and should be on the up.
Having only played 182 competitive minutes of football since being injured 11 months ago playing for Chelsea against Newcastle, Bridge has barely had a look in at Stamford Bridge.
No doubt though, he was glad to be back: ‘I said before that I couldn’t wait to feel the atmosphere again. But I’m a bit disappointed to leave with a loss. I’m still sure with the players we’ve got we can move up. It was good to be back but also disappointing’, Bridge told FulfamFc.com.
Before Bridge’s move to Fulham there were doubts about his fitness affecting his ability to perform to his full potential.
But Bridge added:’My fitness felt alright, but my ankle felt a bit tender and started aching towards the end of the game, but that’s to be expected as it’s the first 90 minutes I’ve played in the Premiership for a long time. I want to play as many games as possible and hopefully if I can stay fit then I can do well. Hopefully now I can get better and better. Every Premiership game is a high standard and I hadn’t played one for a long time so it was a good test for me and my ankle. And I obviously want to try and get into the World Cup squad.’
He believes that he can help Chris Coleman’s injury-ravaged side through this tough period and make Fulham the force they should be. Bridge is enjoying his loan spell at the Cottage and he thinks that Fulham can definitely do better with the players they have at their disposal: ‘The lads and manager have been tremendous to me. I don’t think the position in the League reflects how good Fulham are. They should be higher up and hopefully I can help that as well.’
With Phillippe Christanval injured, Steed Malbranque just coming back from injury, and Papa Bouba Diop on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal, Coleman has been left short for the next few weeks. But with the signing of Bridge, the manager knows he has an extra option on the left of midfield if necessary. And the good news is that Bridge wants to play his part in helping Fulham climb the table.
Bridge is being closely monitored by Jose Mourinho, and after tough opposition from Middlesborough and West Ham, Coleman managed to clinch the deal for Bridge until the end of the season. Mourinho gives his best wishes to Bridge but expects him to be back at Chelsea for the start of next season.
This season injury and fitness have meant he has struggled to get a place in Mourinho’s expensively assembled side. Assier Del Horno and William Gallas have occupied Bridge’s preferred left-back position for most of the season.
‘I’d like to think Jose will monitor my progress,’ said Bridge. ‘He said it’s good to stay close by because they can keep a close eye on me. They also said I’m more than welcome to go and see the lads if I’ve got time, and if I need particular treatment or anything then I’m only two minutes from their training ground. Jose said I’m still part of the team and he understands that I want to play games. But I just want to do well for the lads here at Fulham the moment.’