Sone Aluko has shared just how tough Fulham’s pre-season preparations have been under Slavisa Jokanovic but the forward remains confident that the players will be ready for the demands of a testing Championship campaign come August.
The Nigerian forward, who has scotched rumours that he could be in line to leave Craven Cottage after a stellar first season with the west London club, admitted that the rigours of double summer training sessions don’t get any easier as he gets older but feels that the physicality of Fulham’s warm-up will stand them in good stead later in the season.
Speaking to FulhamFCTV, Aluko said:
It’s been a tough pre-season. They don’t seem to get any easier, the older I get. It’s been good. We haven’t got a massive squad at the moment, so that makes it even tougher because there’s no hiding place in the sessions, but as pre-season goes on and we’re playing more games I think we’ll get better and stronger.
The 28 year-old is looking forward to the first game of Fulham’s second pre-season tour to Austria which sees the Whites test themselves against Premier League opposition in the shape of London rivals, West Ham.
It’ll be a tough game. To be honest, every game in pre-season’s tough whether it’s a top Premier League or one of the foreign teams or the local teams you play, because you go into the games already tired from the sessions, physically it’s demanding. A lot of the time you are trying to implement and learn new things the manager’s trying to test out, so it’s always tough whether it’s mentally or physically.
Aluko also believes that his team-mates will be in fine fettle come the opening day of the domestic season, which sees Fulham take on Norwich City at Craven Cottage on August 5.
That’s the aim. You are always going to pick up a couple of niggles or knocks in pre-season because of how hard it is, but it’s been a good pre-season. Everyone looks strong, everyone came back in pretty good condition so I’m confident that going into the season we’ll be ready.
Aluko also shared some of his experiences from his summer’s ambassadorial work with his foundation that sponsors a youth academy in Lagos. The Hounslow-born forward has been heavily involved in working with a promising group of young Nigerian footballers and called the work ‘very fulfilling’.
I host a competition. It’s called the Ambassador’s Cup and it is linked to a club out in Lagos. The guys have run the club for the last five years, or so. For the last three years or so, I’ve hosted a competition, every year it’s grown. It was under-18s this year, eleven a side, eight teams and the winners get cash prizes, kit, gifts, I get to speak to all the boys. Last year and this year again, I went to Lagos University and did a speech just about things I learned from football and how I can help students, so it is just a mix of different things. I get invited to a lot of places and go and represent myself, really, and the club.