Thursday, January 19, 2006
ESPNsoccernet: January 20, 8:40 AM UK
Fulham sign Bridge on loan
Wayne Bridge is set to make his Fulham debut in a full-blooded London derby
after arriving at Craven Cottage on loan to boost his World Cup chances.
Bridge completed his move from Chelsea for the rest of the season and will go
straight into the side for their trip to West Ham at Upton Park on Monday
The televised game will give Bridge, 25, the perfect opportunity to show
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson he is still good enough to resurrect an
international career that was blighted by the fractured ankle he sustained last
It has been a long road back for the former Southampton player who cost
Chelsea £7 million in 2003, and he has not started a Barclays Premiership game
for the reigning champions this season.
His lack of action was threatening to undermine his chances of playing a part
for England on the world's biggest footballing stage this summer.
Opportunities at Chelsea were limited due to coach Jose Mourinho's faith in
Spain left-back Asier del Horno and France international William Gallas.
Bridge turned to Chris Coleman's Fulham after Tottenham could not guarantee
the left-back a regular place in their side.
Spurs coach Martin Jol confirmed the two parties had held talks but the
Dutchman could not give Bridge the first-team assurances he was looking for and
the defender opted to try elsewhere instead.
Eriksson has made it clear Bridge needs to prove his fitness by playing
regularly in the top flight if he is to stand any chance of being included in
his plans for Germany.
Bridge has less than four months to show he is worthy of a place in England's
campaign - starting against the Hammers on Monday.
'I'm really happy to join Fulham for the remainder of the season,' he told
Fulham's official website. 'I think that the next few months is an incredibly
important period for me to be playing regular football, as I would obviously
love to be part of the manager's plans for the World Cup.
'Fulham is a nice club with a great atmosphere, but most importantly they
play good football under Chris Coleman.
'I did have other choices offered to me, but this seemed to be the best
option for me at this time.'
Delighted Coleman added: 'Wayne Bridge is a world-class player and we are
more than delighted to have him on board for the remainder of the season.
'Obviously with the World Cup around the corner Wayne is keen to play regular
football and given that some big clubs were interested in signing him this
window, we are delighted that he has chosen Fulham.
'Therefore - with the securing of Tony Warner's services and the signing of
Simon Elliott, Antti Niemi and now Wayne - I am more than happy with the way
things are progressing this window, with the support of the chairman and the
Bridge will not be able to play against Chelsea when the champions visit
Craven Cottage in March but his move has the backing of Eriksson's number two -
'If he gets more football with another club it is a good move because he
needs to play,' said Grip. 'Sven likes him and so do I.'