Fulham boss Chris Coleman has hailed the contribution of Japanese star Junichi Inamoto as he prepares the Cottagers for their Carling Cup second-round appointment with Division One leaders Wigan.
Inamoto arrived at Craven Cottage in July 2002 after failing to hold down a first-team place at Arsenal and although still registered with Gamba Osaka in Japan, he has agreed an extension to his loan deal which will keep him in London until summer next year.
The midfielder’s increased stay at Fulham looks to be a shrewd move as he has enjoyed a strong start to the new season, making a greater contribution to the team’s defensive duties – an area of his game which was missing last term.
His efforts have certainly impressed Coleman who remains unconcerned by the player’s recent string of bookings, believing his three yellow cards from as many outings is a sign of an increased workrate.
“I’m not worried about Inamoto’s disciplinary record – I’m actually pleased. He’s been a revelation for us this season. Last term he was different class when he had the ball – his skills were brilliant.
“But when he didn’t have the ball he left a lot to be desired. This year though he has attempted to rectify that and has totally surprised me.
“I talked to him in pre-season and told him what I wanted from him and ever since he has been first class. We’ve been delighted with him following his performances in the last few games.”
Inamoto, the first Japanese player to transfer to an English club, is certain to feature in tomorrow’s clash at the JJB Stadium as Coleman selects his match-day squad from a position of relative strength.