Fulham's young hopeful Matthew Briggs is ready to stake his claim for a regular first team place and finally live up to the expectation after becoming the youngest player to appear in the Barclays Premier League upon making his debut four years ago.
A frustrating season last year has not knocked the youngster's confidence but, instead, this term a mature self-assurance has crept into the 20-year-old's mindset as Briggs looks to build on his four appearances for the Cottagers.
“I love the buzz in the changing room ahead of kick-off, and although I still get butterflies, I feel a lot more confident walking out onto that pitch - it’s an incredible feeling," he said.
“I’m 20 years of age now and although that is still young, I’ve been training with the first team for a while now. I like to think that I have the talent, and now it’s up to me to turn my potential into the real thing.
“I’m feeling very positive right now and, touch wood, things continue that way. I’ve certainly had my fair share of injuries and after starting last season on the treatment table it took a while for me to get going again.
“There were times when I didn’t really feel part of things. Although I was in and around the senior squad, it’s not until you get a regular run of games that you fully understand what it is like.
“But I do feel part of the set-up now – I feel like a professional footballer. Every player wants to be out there wearing the shirt of his team and I’m no different. Having been given the chance of late, I’m determined to make the most of it and take the opportunity."
Briggs was pleased to see Martin Jol arrive at the helm of the club after hearing his penchant for starting young players.
He said: “Fortunately I got my chance and although last season was very rewarding, I am hopeful that I can make even more of a statement this year. Martin Jol has come in and thankfully he’s continued to show the faith in me – now I want to repay him and the club by doing well.”
“He’s raised the bar and hopefully I can make the jump. He’s certainly given the younger players a lift and the chance is there for us.”