Match fitness is more important than results, says John Arne Riise

John Arne Riise isn’t too concerned that Fulham couldn’t find a winner against HB Køge this afternoon, preferring to reflect on the early weeks of pre-season training and viewing the first friendly of the summer as more of a fitness exercise.

The Norwegian left back, who played the second half of what was ultimately a frustrating fixture against dogged Danish opponents in Leipzig, explained that returning to match sharpness is always difficult in the first game after the close-season.

We’ve been back only for a week and this was a good workout. It’s always hard to start the first game, we knew that we were all going to play one half each so it was important to get some match fitness in.

Most of the players are looking sharp and we’ve been taking care of ourselves in the holidays and it’s been good but we know that there is still four or five weeks of hard work still left before the first game of the season. But Scandinavian players always work hard, they never give up. It was hard to play against them.

Riise looked as though he had picked up from where he had left off in May, when he finished last season with some superb performances at left back. He was regularly rampaging down the left flank and whipped over a couple of dangers crosses as well as a free-kick that narrowly eluded Mladen Petric. The full-back also found himself in shooting positions, twice seeing shots saved, and then spurning a glorious opportunity to score the winner with two minutes to play.

I knew I was onside and I was looking for Mladen Petric but he was marked and I was thinking about either chipping the goalkeeper or bending the ball around. I bent it round but caught the ball a little bit too straight.

At the end of the day we deserved to win but the most important thing is not to pick up injuries and work hard. Everyone is fine, Steve Sidwell got a knock but apart from that I think everyone is good.