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Jol: Europe hurting Fulham

Fulham manager Martin Jol admits the Cottagers' Europa League commitments have meant that preparations for the new Premier League campaign have been far from ideal.

• Fulham blog: Let's get ready to rumble

The west Londoners secured a safe passage to the play-off stages after overcoming plucky RNK Split 2-0 at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

Jol's side have now played home and away ties with Faroese minnows NSI Runavik, Crusaders of Northern Ireland and Split, which the Dutchman claims is not the best preparation for the forthcoming domestic season.

"We could organise another game for next Tuesday but I think that's a bad idea,'' he said.

"We have played six games now. Maybe you would prefer to play eight or nine games in the pre-season as some other players didn't play a lot so that is probably a disadvantage, but I am satisfied with the results because we got through to the next round.

"But I cannot be satisfied with the preparation because we only played on a Thursday and you can't just focus on these matches the whole time. You have to work on conditioning as well so it's not easy."

First up in the league for Jol and his troops is Aston Villa at the Cottage, where former Birmingham striker Johnson will likely play a part for the home side. Johnson has looked impressive in the Europa League and Jol believes the 30-year-old has finally put his injury problems behind him.

"Sharp and in good form - that is the way I always saw him when I was working in England,'' he said. "He is a very good player, lively and he can play the ball too.

"He can also do something in an individual way like he did with [winning] the penalty kick so I can't ask for more. If he stays fit then he is a great player for us.''


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