Sep 21 2012 By Paul Warburton
CHRIS Baird and Steve Sidwell have admitted this season is their best chance of cementing places in Fulham’s first team.
The mass exodus in the middle of the park that saw Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele depart over the summer left Baird and Sidwell as pair last men standing in Saturday’s 3-0 win over West Brom – and both grabbed the opportunity by the scruff of the neck.
Sidwell banged the final nail into Albion’s coffin for the 3-0 win, and Baird enjoyed a commanding display in the centre as Whites returned to winning ways.
Waiting in the wings is the injured Kieran Richardson, Mahamadou Diarra and new recruit Giorgos Karagounis – but the combined age of the last two is a hefty 66, and that alone offers plenty of reasons for Baird and Sidders to lick their lips.
“It’s my second start this season – and I thought I did all right in the midfield to be fair to myself," said Baird.
“I’m happy here at Fulham, and every opportunity I get I will show the manager I can play in that position – and I don’t think I did my chances any harm after this match.”
Sidwell likewise reckons he can keep Karagounis and co warming the bench for a little while longer.
“When I came here under Mark Hughes I got thrown straight in and played every game up until my injury,” he said.
“My foot was in the door then – and obviously I’ve got another chance with Clint and Mousa going.
“Now it’s down to me to make that count.”