Matthew Briggs m,ight have dropped off the first team radar since his Fulham debut as a substitute at Middlesbrough in 2007, but he’s back in the picture after an impressive summer.
The defender went on Fulham’s pre-season tour of Australia and then starred as the England Under-19 side reached the final of the European Championships. He has been rewarded with a squad number for the first team and is now targeting a place in the first team.
It was the first tour I had been on with the First Team. Not only are you training and playing with them, but you’re also getting to know them personally too, and they had a lot of time for myself and Matt Saunders.
It’s a valuable experience for young players and being part of the matches gave me so much confidence. I played in all three of the games, coming on in the final 30 minutes, and really enjoyed myself.
I think I played well and was used at left-back, the position I feel most comfortable in. The Manager gave me some good feedback too. There were two or three areas he pointed to in terms of improvement, so now it’s up to me to go away and put them right.
Having enjoyed a successful summer with England Under-19s, Briggs has been training with the first team ahead of the new campaign.
Having had such a good pre-season I definitely feel a bit closer to the First Team. The biggest thing for me was being given a squad number for the first time. That was a special occasion, something that all young players working their way up want to experience. The biggest thing for me was being given a squad number for the first time. That was a special occasion, something that all young players working their way up want to experience.
If you look on the Club website you will see a picture of me with my squad number – 37 – alongside. It seems really small, but things like that really make a difference. It’s my shirt.
Roy Hodgson has obviously been impressed with the youngster’s development – and there’s a hint that we might be seeing more of Briggs.
The Manager has been very positive. So that gave me a lot of confidence before the season started. He said that he didn’t take me on the tour for the experience or to make up the numbers, he took me because I’m good enough to be part of his squad.
That is obviously very encouraging to hear, so now it’s up to me to impress him further. The Club could be playing in four competitions this season, depending on how they do in the Europa League, so hopefully there will be an opportunity at some point to show what I can do.
It is also refreshing to hear Briggs refusing to dwell on his first team debut and recognise that he needs to concentrate on the future.
I’ve spoken a lot about my First Team debut, but that was a long time ago now. It’s a nice accolade to have and a very proud moment of my life – but it’s time to move on. I’ve reached a point where I need to establish myself as a First Team player. I’m looking to the future. It’s a big year for me and hopefully it will be the one when I make my Fulham breakthrough.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this interview came when Briggs insisted that he felt his best position is at left back. Maybe he’s the long-term successor to Paul Konchesky.