Fulham manager Roy Hodgson reckons Fulham are in a race against time to be ready for the Europa League.
In fact, had the Whites qualified for the tournament earlier – the Fulham boss would have wanted to postpone the tour of Australia at the beginning of next month.
The money-spinner Down Under will add to the club’s profile on the other side of the world – but it leaves his squad just 11 days to prepare before their first-leg, third- round tie on July 29, in the competition that replaces the old UEFA Cup.
Hodgson also has the extra headaches of two players absent for personal reasons in the middle of July, and three others joining the squad late following commitments in the Confederations Cup.
At the same time, the man honoured for taking Fulham to their highest-ever finish is certain there will be new faces also needing time to bed in.
He said: “The tour of Australia is a lucrative one for the club and it will help spread the name of Fulham over there.
“But we’re away from the beginning of July until after the 16th, and with the journeys involved, it’s going to be a tight fit to get the whole squad ready for the Europa League.
“At about the time we play the first leg, you would normally be playing the more prestigious friendlies. But this is no friendly – this is going to be a very competitive match.
“We didn’t know we were going to be playing in Europe until the last match in May – and by then plans for Australia were in place.”
One Fulham player is getting married, another’s wife is going to give birth in the middle week of July, and John Pantsil, Dickson Etuhu and Clint Dempsey will be returning from their holidays after international matches, just as their team-mates touch down jet-lagged from Oz.
Hodgson said: “We should have new players coming in by then as well, so we’re going to have to make the best use of the time available before the Europa League.”
The draw for the competition takes place at UEFA headquarters Nyon, Switzerland, on July 17.