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Kelly: Early start can boost Fulham

08 Jul 2011 15:59:00

Kelly: Early start can boost Fulham

Stephen Kelly believes Fulham's early start to the season will stand the club in good stead as they embark on another European adventure. Fulham, whose early start has ensured they will play a competitive match in every month of 2011, advanced to the second qualifying round of the Europa League with a 3-0 aggregate win over NSI Runavik. Martin Jol's side were frustrated at being held to a goalless draw by the Faroese part-timers last night despite creating a host of chances. But the Cottagers, beaten Europa League finalists in 2010, did enough to book a trip to face Crusaders of Northern Ireland in the next round on Thursday night. "It's started early for us again but it's got that feeling of another European tour already," defender Kelly told the club's official website. "It would be great if we could continue progressing and it's great to go away to different countries. "I'd never been to the Faroe Islands before and it's a landscape we would never see unless we were involved in the UEFA Europa League. "We should benefit from the fact we're playing competitive games rather than friendly matches. "We had good chances and plenty of possession but they defended in numbers and made it difficult. "We got a clean sheet and it was a good performance at the back and we're through to the next round. "It's been a good test for us and as much as it was a competitive match, it was only our second game of the season on Thursday night. "Now we'll be sharper and hopefully that will show against the Crusaders next week." Fulham academy graduate Kerim Frei made his first team debut off the bench after replacing striker Andrew Johnson in the 71st minute at the Svangaskard Stadium. "I feel proud," said Frei. "I've now played in the Europa League and it's always been a dream of mine to play in a European competition. "It's a great education for me. I joined Fulham 18 months ago and I've taken it step by step. Now I want to improve as a player in every training session that I'm involved in with the first team." Fulham confirmed on Friday that South Africa international Kagisho Dikgacoi has moved to Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee.


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