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It's still 50/50 for Fulham - 17/12/2002

   Shola Ameobi
   Newcastle United

Iíve never had an injury like this before, and to be honest, itís a bit of a mystery. Itís been a frustrating, niggling type of injury but hopefully after resting for the last week Iíll be OK for Fulham. I picked it up in the game at Old Trafford Ė over three weeks ago, but although it hasnít been a problem during games, thereís been swelling immediately afterwards. As a result I was happy to play with the injury and hope that the swelling would gradually disappear, however after carrying the problem for four games, enough was enough. I dropped out against Southampton and I hope that the break will have done the trick. Only time will tell, and I dare say that if I do face Fulham, Iíll be interested to see if it swells up after the game.

The Champions League match in Bareclona was very disappointing, yes it was a good experience to play at the Camp Nou, but the game is about winning Ė and we didnít manage to do that. Losing the game is a fact that obviously overshadowed the few positives, Sholaís performance for example. Thatís two games and no points, and although it was the same in the first stage, this time the competition is stronger. To come back from this situation will be a massive achievement, but I do believe we can still do it! Weíve got back to back games against Bayer Levekusen and we have to look to win both, if we do then weíve given ourselves a chance. But we need to stop the individual mistakes that seem to be happening all over the pitch. We've proved that we can play at this standard, but we now need to do so consistently. If we can manage to do that, then we can go through to the knock-out stage

The defence has come in for a lot of criticism, but this should be directed to the team as a whole, not specifically the defence. We also have to understand that we have one of the youngest defences in the country Ė and in Europe. Aaron Hughes, Andy OíBrien, Andy Griffin, Titus Bramble, Steve Caldwell and Olivier Bernard are all still in their very early twenties or younger. We have to talk to improve things, but we must be solid and pull together as a team. I think some things should be kept within the club, this is one of those things.

Our next game is where we must focus, and Fulham on Saturday is very important. Our target has always been to finish in a Champions League position and to do so, we have to win our home games. We want more of the Champions League and to get more, we have to look after the Premiership. We didnít do too well against Fulham last season, and we certainly need to put that right. Only four teams will qualify, and with Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea all pushing to win the title, weíve got a real fight on our hands. All clubs have a spell where results become difficult, this is presently happening to Liverpool, but they'll bounce back. The three points on Saturday is our immediate target, I just hope Iíll be fit and able to contribute.

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