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Following the exits of Johnny Greening and Kagisho Dikgacoi from SW6 already this summer, Martin Jol has been quick to bring in a couple of younger replacement for the departed central midfielders.

Last week the Dutchman signed the Czech Under 21 defensive midfielder, Pajtim Kasami, from Palermo for about £3m and with Swiss Under 21 Gecov signing for the Whites early this month for around £700,000.  In the build up to the third round qualifier in the Europa League Jol was quoted as saying he’s got big plans for Gecov and he’ll feature heavily for us this coming season.

With Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu and Steve Sidwell already fighting for the two slots, there’s set to be increased competition in the centre of the field. Who will fill the spaces on the team sheet? Pretty much as soon as he walked through the doors at White Heart Lane Jol shipped Murphy off to us. While this was fantastic for us Danny probably was a little unsure as to what lie ahead for him when he was appointed as our new gaffer over the summer. However, reassurances we’re issued by the newcomer straight off the bat …

Last season, if you had the privilege of having me tell you about football and Fulham you may have discovered that I wasn’t Etuhu’s number one fan. Now, make a note of where you are when I write this but, I may have been wrong. I know any idiot can use statistics to prove their point but, according to last seasons stats by Opta, Etuhu appears to have been our best central midfielder. With more goals than Murphy, a better pass competition rate than any other player and per minute more interceptions he may be doing enough to keep his place in the centre of the park.

With Jol singing the praises of the newcomers and Murphy wanting to play as many games as he can in, what could be his final couple of seasons it’ll be good to have some contest for positions. Sidwell won’t be wanting to sit out games as he did last season during his time with today’s opponents, Villa, and Etuhu always seems eager to play.

I guess we’re but a few hours away from finding out.

Welcome back football. Never leave us again. We’ve missed you.