sport

Parker: Experience is crucial

Scott Parker believes Fulham's vast experience will work in their favour as they endeavour to steer clear of trouble.

The Cottagers have taken just 19 points from their 21 games so far and are precariously perched just one above the drop zone.

Parker has found himself in such a situation once before, during his days at West Ham United, and is determined to avoid further relegation heartache.

He is convinced that Fulham can preserve their Premier League status, and says fellow 30-somethings Damien Duff, Dimitar Berbatov, John Arne Riise, Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Steve Sidwell, Giorgos Karagounis and Clint Dempsey have a key role to play.

Parker told The Sun: "Age is not a limit and, while people may suggest it, I don't see it like that. We are an older squad but you can reverse that and say there is experience there and we have an understanding.

"I don't think there have been many games we have under-performed or not worked hard enough. Experience can only help. When you have been in situations before you have an understanding of what needs to be done.

"There are some senior players here, big characters like Duff, Hangeland, Berbatov - they all have vast experience and have played at top clubs. It can only be a positive.

"We also have some youngsters in the squad. I see it as a balance and hopefully that experience can help us move on.

"Our form has been up and down. That is the reason we are where we are. Confidence plays a massive part in things.

"It is a tough league but there is a whole bunch of teams down there. There is a way to go and we have some tough fixtures coming up. But I certainly think there is enough experience, know-how and quality to get out of trouble."

While Fulham have plenty of top-flight experience on the field, they have worked hard to add similar qualities off it - with Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins having been drafted into the coaching team alongside boss Rene Meulensteen.

Parker, who worked with Curbishley at Charlton Athletic and West Ham, added: "They are settling in well. Rene has brought his ideas in and done well, along with Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins. They have vast experience between them and it has helped.

"As a team we have picked up a bit. We are playing a bit more dynamic. I am sure Rene knows what needs to be done.

"I had not spoken to Curbs for a long time. Honestly, I didn't have a clue he was coming here - I found out the night it came out.

"Curbs has been in this situation before with West Ham and he will bring experience, a bit of know-how. I'm sure he will be a sounding board for the manager.

"I was probably surprised he was out for so long. I don't know if that was Alan's choice or not. He left West Ham on difficult terms but it is good to see him back. Meulensteen is very hands-on as a coach. He takes a lot of sessions, has a lot of input, drills players in terms of what he wants.

"He is a very confident person. His experiences at Manchester United have brought him that confidence."