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Emerson Hyndman is hoping to use his experience of playing a starring role at this summer’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup as a springboard for a successful season with Fulham.

The young midfielder, who captained the United States as they reached the last eight of the competition, saw an impressive first season with the first-team cut short by a collarbone injury on international duty and is raring to go ahead of this evening’s first pre-season friendly in Portugal against Aston Villa. The 19 year-old wants to kick on under Kit Symons this season and feels his fine performances in New Zealand with the American under-20 side will hold him in good stead.

I wasn’t told that long before the start of the tournament that I was going to be captain. It was a new challenge for me, but my coach Tab Ramos told me he had faith in me, that I could do it. He said just be yourself and try to command these guys, and make sure they are doing what you want them to do. So it gave me a lot of responsibility. I really feel like I lived up to it.

A lot of the guys I play next to at Fulham are a little older than me. We all have our own experiences, like Scott Parker has been England captain before which is a big thing. To be at the front of the line, walking out, and to see all of your teammates behind you, it was a big deal. Especially when the national anthem came on, it’s a real sense of pride. To do that in a World Cup was really special for me.

Hyndman has only had the briefest of breaks before joining the high-intensity training that has seen Symons put the first-team squad, complete with recent new arrivals through their paces, although his recent experience of the competitive edge of a tournament will give him a boost in terms of match sharpness.

We were playing 11 versus 11 in training and that’s my first 11-a-side action since the World Cup, so it was good to finally get the legs going on a big pitch and in one of those games. It was only 20 minutes for all of us, but it was really beneficial for me and I hope to carry that on in the further games that we play.

The last game I played was 120 minutes and that was only three weeks ago, so it doesn’t feel that long since I last played which is good. Obviously match fitness is a big thing and I hope to build that up as the pre-season goes on. I was told at the start of the week I was going to build up gradually. They had a week of training before I arrived back, so it was a smart thing to build me in gradually and I feel up to pace now.

Hyndman says that, although the early work has been physically demanding, the players have been working hard as a unit to ensure that everybody pulls through.

It’s good to get everyone together in a really nice place. Training in the heat has been difficult so far, in terms of getting our bodies ready for the season. It’s been great, we’ve all been getting along with each other and it’s really all coming together.

The cultured midfielder, who has some serious competition for a first-team place after the arrivals of Tom Cairney and Jamie O’Hara in recent weeks, is hoping to build on his bright showings in the senior side last season after stepping up from starring at youth-team level.

I came straight from the 18s last year. I was a year younger and I wasn’t as experienced as I am now, but going through a season and getting a good amount of game time, I feel a lot more comfortable in the set-up now. I think that goes for everyone who came up from the 18s with me, including Pat [Roberts], George [Williams] and all of those guys.

I’m going to try to be myself and do my best, that’s all I can say. I’m always looking to attack as well as put in my shift defensively. Hopefully I can score a few goals and make some assists and do what I can on that pitch.

Hyndman feels that tonight’s first game against Aston Villa in Albufeira represents a serious test of where the side after a couple of weeks of pre-season preparation.

Coming up against a team like Aston Villa, they are a Premier League side. It should be a good game, a fast game I imagine. They have a good squad, and so do we. It’ll be good to have the quality of opposition that we have. Leading into a season, you really want to test yourself and give yourself a chance to sort out any problems or do good things against a good team so you know you can carry it on into the league season,