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Listen To This Week’s Cottage Talk Featuring A Sascha Riether Exclusive!

This week’s Cottage Talk podcast has just finished broadcasting, and as per usual it was a ninety minutes packed full of Fulham content. I joined Will Paul, journalist Dean Jones and host Russ Goldman to discuss the news of our success in the Dallas Cup and Hangeland’s new contract as well as the return of Bobby Zamora, before Russ presented an exclusive interview with player of the season-elect Sascha Riether and an in depth preview of the QPR game on Monday. Listen by checking below.

Listen To Cottage Talk: 29th March 2013

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Riether relishing Stoke return

Sascha Riether has returned to full training and is hoping to regain his place in the Fulham side for the visit of Stoke City on 23 February.

The German right back withdrew from the squad on the morning of Fulham’s 0-0 draw at Norwich City on Saturday after falling ill, forcing Martin Jol to summon new signing Stanislav Manolev up from London to make his debut at short notice. It was the first fixture Riether had missed since moving to London on loan from FC Köln in the summer and Riether is ready to resume his superb season on the right side of Fulham’s back four.

Yes, it was frustrating. But I am fine now and will be available for selection against Stoke City.

The 29 year-old has been delighted with the success of his loan spell and says he’s really enjoying his time with Fulham.

For me, it’s been a great time at Fulham so far. It was my first experience of another country and it was a big step for me to come to England. But I have to say Fulham is like a family and I like playing here. The fans are great, I like the stadium and it’s been all good so far.

Riether has also welcomed the addition of Manolev, who had a solid debut at Norwich, insisting that additional competition for places can only lead to better performances.

It’s always important for a team that you don’t just have 11 players. We have more than 20 players here who can play and who want to play. It’s a long season and we have many games so it’s important that if players are out injured or suspended, we have others who can fit in without a problem.

Taxi for Manolev: How a cab ride led to defender’s Fulham debut

Stanislav Manolev wasn’t expecting to make his Fulham debut this afternoon. While his team-mates were preparing for a tough test at Norwich, the Bulgarian defender was back in London readying himself for his first full week of training at Motspur Park after finally being granted a week permit to complete his loan move from PSV Eindhoven.

But any thoughts of a quiet Saturday were quickly banished after a virus struck down the two men ahead of him in Martin Jol’s pecking order at right back. Ever-present Sascha Riether withdrew from the starting line-up injured and utility man Chris Baird was also unable to play, leaving Fulham frantically summoning Manolev away from London. It took a mid-morning taxi ride to even give the reserve right back a chance of playing his first Premier League game. It is a testament to Manolev’s professionalism that you would never have figured his first Fulham appearance was such a last-minute affair from the composed way in which he slotted serenely into the back four.

Riether, who had prior today been an ever-present in his brief Fulham career, has arguably been the club’s player of the season, combining some fine defensive decision making with a few bursts down the right flank to provide an overlap in attack. Whilst Manolev did look a little rusty in the final third – twice crossing out of play from good positions – he struck up a good understanding with Byran Ruiz, who started on the right of a four man midfield, and barely put a foot wrong defensively. Like so many modern full-backs, Manolev looked comfortable and composed in possession and kept Elliott Bennett’s breaks beyond him to a minimum. Indeed, the only time Norwich profited from any space behind the 27 year-old was in the first five minutes when Luciano Becchio stabbed a shot straight at Mark Schwarzer.

For someone who was probably looking forward to a quiet weekend before a swift morning jaunt up the motorway, this was an impressive introduction to the Premier League for Manolev, who displayed the  kind of aptitude that suggests it will be an interesting tussle between him and Riether for the right back berth over the course of the season. For someone who stepped out of a taxi and into the starting line-up with new team-mates with whom he’s barely trained, this was a very encouraging start to the Bulgarian international’s Fulham career. Just as it importantly, Manolev’s magnificent effort helped the Whites record their first clean sheet since the goalless draw at Chelsea in mid-November.

Riether keen to stay at Fulham

Sascha Riether says he would be delighted to turn his loan spell at Fulham into a permanent move at the end of the season.

The German full-back has been hugely impressive since joining from FC Köln in the summer and has played in all 29 of Fulham’s fixtures during the campaign. Reports from Germany this week have claimed that his parent club would like to cash in on Riether come the close season to fund some summer acquisitions of their own and the 29 year-old has admitted he would be keen to stay in London.

I can’t say where I will play next season. But I like to play in the Premier League, and here it’s a great club and we have great fans. I’m proud to be here. It will be the decision of the club and Cologne. They will speak together and in the end they will speak to me.

FC Köln confirmed that last week that Fulham have an option to sign Riether for  €1.5m written into the loan deal that took the former Wolfsburg full-back to Craven Cottage.

Fulham have €1.5m option on Riether

Reports in the German press claim that Fulham have a €1.5m option to finalise a permanent transfer for Sascha Riether this summer – and the full-back’s parent club FC Köln would like to complete a deal to boost their own transfer budget.

Riether has been a revelation at right back since joining Fulham in the summer and was outstanding in Saturday’s defeat by Manchester United at Craven Cottage. The former German international’s agent is quoted suggesting that Riether would be keen to return to FC Köln at the end of his loan, although he also stresses that the 29 year-old will make the final decision about his future.

FC Köln’s sporting director Claus Horstmann discloses that he last spoke to Riether in September and confirmed that Fulham do have an option of securing Riether’s signature for what seems a bargain price of €1.5m. Given the praise that Riether has attracted already during his short spell in England and that Fulham let Stephen Kelly join Reading towards the end of the transfer window, you would expect the Whites to be keen to agree a long-term deal with the loanee.

Fulham manager Martin Jol was quoted in January as saying he would be keen to sign Riether, who has played in every game for the club this season, on a permanent basis:

Sascha Riether has done a great job for us. He’s enthusiastic, mobile and aggressive. I only wanted him on loan because you never know how they’ll do. If he carries on like this we will make our mind up and try to extend it or buy him.