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Richards ‘out for two weeks’

Fulham full-back Jazz Richards has been ruled out for two weeks with a calf injury.

The Wales international was taken off after just 37 minutes of the Whites’ dramatic game with Reading last weekend and will miss the trip to Bristol City on Saturday.

Richards is also likely to be ruled out for the games with Burnley and Birmingham City but should return after the international break.

Jamie O’Hara is available to play against Bristol City after serving a one-match suspension, but goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli and defender Jack Grimmer remain sidelined.

Richards signs for Fulham

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Fulham have confirmed the permanent signing of Welsh international full-back Jazz Richards from Swansea City this morning.

The defender made fourteen appearances for the club during a loan spell at Craven Cottage towards the end of last season. Fulham successfully fought off interest from a number of Premier League clubs, as well as Championship rivals, to secure a deal for the 24 year-old. believed to be in the region of £500,000.

Richards, who was outstanding after being picked at right wing-back for Wales’ 1-0 win over Belgium in Cardiff last month that continued their fine run in European Championship qualifying, was highly rated at the Liberty Stadium where made more than 50 appearances since joining Swansea as a schoolboy. He also won promotion from the Championship during a successful loan spell at Crystal Palace.

Speaking to Fulham’s official website this morning, Richards said:

When I was on loan here last season I settled in straight away with the lads and the staff, and I enjoyed the style of football that Kit Symons was trying to get the team playing. That made me want to come back.

Kit’s a good manager, a good coach, and what he’s trying to get us to do will take the Club forward, and we’ve got the players to do so. And we’ve already made some good signings this summer. In some of the games last season we were unfortunate with the results, but with the crowd behind us this year supporting the lads I think we can go on and do big things.

Fulham Transfer Targets: Championship Defenders

Fulham have begun this summer transfer window by concluding three deals for players from within the Championship. In Tom Cairney, Ben Pringle and Andy Lonergan we have moved to strengthen the squad with players who are already proven in our division. It is a surprisingly sensible transfer strategy and looks to be going someway to rectifying the balance of the misshapen squad we ended last season with.

 

However, with the arrivals in the form of a goalkeeper and two midfielders (with a possible third to follow in Jamie O’Hara), one area we are yet to sign any players for is the defence. With up to an entirely new back four not out of the realms of possibility, it is safe to say Mike Rigg and co will be scouring the Championship for defensive options. So what follows is a list of potential defensive targets, should Fulham decided to continue the strategy of staying within the Championship.

Lewis Dunk – CB, Brighton & Hove Albion

Centre back Dunk is a player who’s already been linked to Fulham this summer, with some reports stating we’ve already had offers for the 23 year old turned down. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but it is certainly believable, and Dunk would be an intriguing signing. At 6”4’ his size makes him stand out, but there is a danger with a player like Dunk that his goal scoring, 5 last season, makes him overly memorable relative to how good he actually is. However, he’s a solid player with his prime years ahead of him so it would be a surprise if Brighton let him go.

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James Tarkowski – CB, Brentford

22 year old centre back Tarkowski has had something of a meteoric rise in the 18 months since he joined Brentford from Oldham on transfer deadline day in January 2014. Arriving in west London as a 20 year old amidst Premier League interest, Tarkowski was the archetypal sign them cheap, sell them high transfer that suits the transfer system Brentford are in the midst of implementing. At 22, he still has some development to come and it would be a surprise if Brentford sold him to a rival before his value peaks. We’ve been linked with him already this summer with rumours suggesting we’ve unsurprisingly baulked at a reported £8m valuation placed on the player by Brentford.

Tom Lees – CB, Sheffield Wednesday

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24 year old Lees is another whose name has briefly been mentioned as a potential target already this summer, with press reports suggesting a £1.2m bid was supposedly rejected earlier in June. The Sheffield Wednesday defender is popular at Hillsborough, even captaining the side at times last season and you’d be surprised if they let him go after only one full season at the club. At 6”2’ he’s another physically imposing centre back and, despite his age, would add both experience and leadership to a back line lacking an identity. Sheffield Wednesday kept an impressive 17 clean sheets last season and Lees was a big reason why. Fulham have also been linked to Wolves CB Richard Stearman, whilst it perhaps wouldn’t be a surprise to see Michael Turner leave newly promoted Norwich for a return to South West London.

Simon Francis – RB, Bournemouth

Ok, so Bournemouth aren’t technically in the Championship anymore, but Francis was the best visiting full back to play at Craven Cottage last season. At 30 he is not in the age bracket we ideally want to be signing, but it is important that we garner some experience in the squad outside of those already at the club. If Jack Grimmer isn’t to start the season as our principal right back, I’d want his replacement to be someone he can look up to and learn from. Francis led all Championship defenders in assists last season with 6 but I’d be surprised if Bournemouth wanted to let him go, or if he’d want to leave.

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Charlie Daniels – LB, Bournemouth

Similarly to Francis above, Daniels is no spring chicken aged 29. However, with Bournemouth spending £8m on Tyrone Mings last week, Daniels has seen his potential role at the club nose dive. Daniels is a good all round full back and was part of a spectacularly solid Bournemouth back four last season, alongside the aforementioned Francis, Steve Cook and Tommy Elphick. He also chipped in with 4 assists and 43 key passes. With Sean Kavanagh the only left back in the first team squad (assuming Fernando Amorebieta has no future at the club) we could urgently do with a bit of experience.

Sam Byram – RB, Leeds

I should start the write up of Byram by saying there is very, very little chance we could sign Byram. The 21 year old right back has been catching scouts eyes from the Premier League for several seasons now, with latest reports linking him to Everton in the event Seamus Coleman leaves. However, taking Leeds’ best player for the second summer in a row would be a real coup for Fulham. In reality though, it is likely that a more experienced right back arrives to challenge Grimmer for the place.  The most probable scenario is the arrival of former loanee Ashley Richards on a permanent transfer from Swansea, but we can dream.

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James Husband – LB, Middlesbrough

Another 21-year old, Husband spent the last month of last season on loan at Fulham as part of the Amorebieta loan swap. In 2 league appearances, Husband managed to do what Kostas Stafylidis failed to do in 38 and resemble a competent defender. With George Friend cemented as the starter at Boro, Husband will need to leave the Riverside for regular minutes this season and I’m sure I’d not be alone in welcoming him back to Craven Cottage. Whether Boro would sell him is a different question.

James Husband of Fulham

Scott Malone – LB, Cardiff

Malone started last season at Millwall and caught the eye as the Lions beat us at the Cottage in August. However, with his contract running down, Millwall sold him to Cardiff in January where he proceeded to make 13 appearances. It’s unlikely he’d move again, but the 24 year old is one of the Championships best under the radar full backs.

It’s unlikely any of these players will arrive in SW6 this summer, but it is good to see Fulham looking at the talent available within the Championship as a means to strengthen the squad.

COYW

Fulham move ‘is an option,’ says Richards

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Swansea City defender Jazz Richards has admitted that a permanent move to Fulham is a possibility but insists that his international commitments have been his first priority in the past week.

The full-back starred during Wales’ 1-0 win over Belgium in Cardiff on Friday night and could be tempted to leave Swansea, where he has played his football since he left school, in order to enhance his international prospects as Chris Coleman’s side close in on qualifying for Euro 2016. Richards, who has struggled for first-team football at the Liberty Stadium, has previously conceded that he could look elsewhere for regular game time and has spoken glowingly about how he enjoyed a loan spell at Craven Cottage towards the end of the season.

Fulham have had an offer believed to be in the region of £500,000 accepted for the 24 year-old, although two Premier League clubs have reportedly registered their interests after Richards’ exploits in keeping the likes of Eden Hazard quiet on Friday night. Speaking to the South Wales Evening Post, Richards denied that Fulham boss Kit Symons, who has stepped down as Coleman’s assistant, had used his national team position to make the close for a move to London.

I loved it at Fulham when I was there, they’re a great group of lads. Maybe it is an option, we’ll just have to wait and see.

There are rumours, but I’ve not really looked into it too much. Last week I was with the Welsh team so I was concentrating on that. Now the Wales game is over maybe I can look into that and see what’s going on.

It’s not been brought up with Kit. He is professional in what he does so we didn’t really speak about it last week.

Richards made fourteen appearances for Fulham during a loan spell with the Championship club during the second half of last season and has previously been linked with the likes of QPR and Derby.

Reassessing Jazz Richards

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The Welsh national football team brought out their inner dragon last night as they clinched their first win over a team in FIFA’s supposed top ten. Manager Chris Coleman, formally of Fulham of course, decided to utilise a wing back system that would help cover the attacking talent at Belgium’s disposal. Prospective Fulham player, Ashley Richards, started just his second international game in two years in a right wing back role. Coleman’s charges defended in a fashion that looked as though it was for each and every single Welshman in the Cardiff City Stadium or across the nation.

With rumours that Swansea City had accepted a bid of £500,000 for Ashley Jazz Richards from Fulham, I took it upon myself to watch him very closely as he could well be our starting right back next season after a mixed (to say the least) spell on loan; what transpired was truly incredible. I’ve not seen Richards put in a performance even close to his turn out for Wales against Belgium as he was the epitome of the effort and dedication shown last night earning an eight out of ten from BBC Wales’ Dafydd Pritchard. Richards was strong in the tackle, getting into Eden Hazard quickly, which forced the Chelsea man to look towards the middle and right hand side of the pitch to make an impact on the game.

There was no Belgian threat at all really, but Richards’ performance made sure there was none whatsoever down that side, whether it was Jan Vertonghen overlapping, or Eden Hazard, moving to Dries Mertens and then Kevin de Bruyne late on. Jazz was also dedicated in stopping crosses from getting into the Wales box, it was a master class in cancelling out service to strikers as both Richards and Taylor wedged themselves in between crosses, starving both Christian Benteke and then Romelu Lukaku of any form of food to digest. Ashley Richards’ determination to get in the faces of word class bracket talent was admirable and hugely successful as Chris Coleman’s game plan was executed to perfection.

Confident striding forward in his wing back role, Richards also displayed the poise in possession he gained coming through the system at Swansea, working with managers like Paolo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers in his early professional career. Initially, I were uneasy as towards us signing Jazz Richards, and as a fan of Jack Grimmer, I was hoping we’d give our home-grown Scot all of our faith going into the new season as we build an actual team; but this performance really changed my opinion on Richards. With the announcement that Tim Hoogland will be leaving us, I’m now somewhat excited about the possibility of watching Jack Grimmer and Ashley Richards fight to start in the Fulham back line.

All I know that is if Richards puts in similar performances to his one against Belgium in eighty per cent of our matches, then £500,000 is one hell of a steal. It’s now down to Ashley Richards to be part of an improved defence with improved performances, all that jazz will be a fairly essential component in Fulham battling at the top end of the table rather than facing another frustrating inconsequential season.