Martin Jol has decided that treating the first round of the Europa League qualification process as a “serious friendly” will best serve the club’s interest in the new season.
The Dutchman is mindful that Fulham have only qualified for European competition three times in their history, meaning the Europa League cannot be treated with the same distain as shown by the likes of Liverpool.
However, the desire to progress as far as possible needs to be balanced against the need to give players a sufficient rest after a long, hard campaign.
With the first leg of Fulham’s first qualifying round match against NSI Runavik taking place at Craven Cottage on June 30th, players would have barely been afforded a summer holiday had Jol decided to have them at peak fitness in time for the game.
Knowing this would harm their league campaign – with the players likely to experience burn-out long before the end of the season – Jol has instead opted to consider the tie as part of his preparations.
This means that players will report for pre-season on Thursday after a 31-day rest.
“This is only the second or third time Fulham have been in Europe,” Jol confirmed.
“So I could have said let’s start training early in June, but I thought it was a bad idea. You could consider it a friendly game with a serious touch.”
Fulham are overwhelming favourites to win the first leg against NSI Runavik, with victory for the home side priced at 1/100.
A win for the away side, meanwhile, is 20/1 with bwin, meaning a successful £25 free bet on NSI Runavik to beat Fulham on June 30th, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £525.
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