Jan 13, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
Clint Dempsey has yet to score for Fulham but manager Rene Meulensteen believes it’s only a matter of time before the American comes good.
Following the Cottagers 4-1 loss to Sunderland on Saturday, the Dutch manager spoke of his admiration and hopes for his on-loan striker.
“Clint’s a fit boy and that comes pretty quickly,” Meulensteen said. “The more minutes and games he gets under his belt the quicker that will all come. It won’t take long for him to be right back up there.”
The key for Dempsey, Meulensteen said, is get on the scoresheet and let the momentum build.
“If he could have got his head on one of those crosses in the second half it would have been good for his confidence,” Meulensteen said. “He’s just got to keep working, but that’s his character and that’s exactly what we know he will do.”
Dempsey’s first spell at Fulham saw the US international score 50 Premier League goals in 184 matches between 2007 and 2012. The bulk of those goals came in his final years with the club – scoring 12 goals in 2010/11 and 17 in 2011/12 – once he was firmly installed as a striker rather than a winger.
On Saturday, however, Meulensteen deployed Dempsey on the left-wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Adel Taraabt to his right and Dimitar Berbatov up front. In a somewhat unremarkable performance, Dempsey registered two shots on goal and created one chance in 79 minutes of play. While Dempsey did not see enough of the ball (41 total touches) when he was on it he did well to keep possession, completing an impressive 93.3% of his 30 passes.
Re-producing his past scoring streaks at Fulham will be difficult to do in an attacking midfield role, which is where Dempsey is likely to continue playing unless Berbatov or Darren Bent is sold during the January transfer period.
Dempsey’s next chance to shine for Fulham is Tuesday’s FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich City.
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