Sidwell eager for Euro place

BY foxsports • May 23, 2011

There is an extra place available for an English side in the Europa League qualifiers via UEFA's Fair Play League. With Chelsea and Tottenham already in Europe, Fulham could be given the opportunity once all the final calculations are complete. However, Sunday's red card for Zoltan Gera against Arsenal may yet see relegated Blackpool finish with a higher placing after UEFA delegates reports on attitudes towards referees and crowd behaviour are taken into consideration, as well as on-field disciplinary matters. Fulham reached the Europa League final a year ago under Roy Hodgson and Sidwell - signed by Mark Hughes during the January transfer window - sees no reason why the Cottagers should not enjoy another crack at the competition, even if it means added strain on the squad. "It tests yourself, playing in Europe at any stage of your career is a highlight," said Sidwell, who headed to Stamford Bridge on a Bosman free transfer from Reading in July 2007. "I have been fortunate enough to taste Champions League football when I was at Chelsea. It was a great experience. "I also played the Europa League at Villa, it's a good competition and with the achievements that Fulham made here last season, I am sure we will want to go far in it again." However, Sidwell understands all too well the additional pressures not having a full summer break could bring, with the Europa League first-round qualifiers set for the end of June. "Coming back early doesn't help because the demands of a Premier League game itself are very tough, let alone a Premier League season," he said. "There is no hiding the fact that the Premier League is the hardest league in the world - to go into that you need a fit squad, you need a big squad. Then to add the Europa League, it does take a toll on the squad itself. "There is the chance of burning out towards the end of the season, but whatever the outcome is we are professional enough to take it in our stride and give our best in every game." Sidwell, 28, was on target against another of his old clubs when scoring the opener in the 2-2 draw with the Gunners. The point saw Fulham finish eighth after Hughes' men slowly climbed the table over the closing months of the campaign having begun 2011 in the relegation zone. "You can imagine what the start of the season was like with the new manager coming in, a transitional period, players getting used to different ways," Sidwell said. "It took it's time and when I came I fitted in to that mould, and we have done well. "Now the manager is going to want to kick on again."

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