Jol boosted by Johnson’s form

The 30-year-old missed large chunks of the previous two campaigns

with injuries and netted just three goals for the club last season.

Johnson has already equalled that tally this season, scoring

against NSI Runavik, Crusaders and on Thursday night against RNK

Split in the Europa League third qualifying round. The ex-Everton

man’s header helped secure a 2-0 win on the night and on aggregate,

and Fulham’s progression to Friday’s play-off round draw, and Jol

admits his return to form is a welcome boost. “Sharp and in good

form – that is the way I always saw him when I was working in

England,” he said after the match. “He is a very good player,

lively and he can play the ball too. “He can also do something in

an individual way like he did with (winning) the penalty kick so I

can’t ask for more. “If he stays fit then he is a great player for

us.” Reports emanated on Thursday that West Ham manager Sam

Allardyce was lining up a £2million bid for the striker, whose

contract runs out at the end of the season. When asked about the

Hammers’ interest, Jol retorted: “It’s always the same, there’s

always interest in five or six players. “Maybe you don’t know about

that but now you do you start talking about it. “People will always

talk because we have got good players.” Johnson’s first-half effort

set the west Londoners’ on their way to victory in their third

round qualifier at Craven Cottage. Fulham endured a frustrating

night in Croatia last week as they struggled to a goalless draw

against Split, but they managed to see off the Reds on home soil.

Johnson’s header proved the only goal of a first half in which the

west Londoners dominated, before skipper Danny Murphy put the tie

beyond doubt from the spot in a challenging second half. Fulham

will find out their next opponents in Friday afternoon’s draw and

Jol will now prepare his troops for the opening match of the

Barclays Premier League a week on Saturday. Aston Villa are the

opponents and the Dutchman admits preparations have been far from

ideal due to their Europa League commitments. “We could organise

another game for next Tuesday but I think that’s a bad idea,” he

added. “We have played six games now. Maybe you would prefer to

play eight or nine games in the pre-season as some other players

didn’t play a lot so that is probably a disadvantage, but I am

satisfied with the results because we got through to the next

round. “But I cannot be satisfied with the preparation because we

only played on a Thursday and you can’t just focus on these matches

the whole time. “You have to work on conditioning as well so it’s

not easy.”