The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Joe Dug­gan

SHAUN Hutchinson has gone full cir­cle in a Ful­ham shirt un­der Kit Sy­mons.

Af­ter be­ing sent off in the for­mer Wales in­ter­na­tional’s first game in charge, the cen­tral de­fender was nur­tured rather than dis­carded and net­ted in the re­cent 3-1 de­feat at Bolton.

And the 24-year-old ad­mits he owes a great deal of grat­i­tude to Sy­mons for keep­ing faith with him and in­stalling him as a per­ma­nent fix­ture at the heart of the Cot­tagers de­fence.

The X-rated tackle on Black­burn’s Lee Wil­liamson that re­sulted in Hutchinson’s dis­missal in Septem­ber is a mo­ment he re­grets. But rather than sulk, the big Ge­ordie knuck­led down and has made him­self a fix­ture in the line-up.

And while Hutchinson ad­mits it took him time to set­tle at Craven Cottage, he hopes that his cur­rent dis­plays in a Ful­ham shirt are mak­ing amends for his ear­lier aber­ra­tion.


“I didn’t re­ally help my­self,” ad­mit­ted Hutchinson.

“Any­body who comes to a new club takes a lit­tle while to adapt. I just got my head down and kept work­ing hard. Kit showed be­lief in me and hope­fully I am re­pay­ing him with per­for­mances.

“When Kit came in, he played me in the first game and stupidly I got sent off. He said to me ‘lis­ten, just keep work­ing hard. I know it was silly. Think of the bad times and when the good times come, you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate them more’.

“I apol­o­gised for let­ting the team down. I’ve worked hard, I’ve been pa­tient. Ob­vi­ously it’s not nice be­ing on the bench but I’ve been there ev­ery day work­ing hard try­ing to get in the team and sup­port­ing the lads. Hope­fully that’s pay­ing off now.”

Hutchinson’s run in the team has dove­tailed with Ful­ham’s im­prove­ment un­der Sy­mons. Felix Ma­gath’s de­par­ture, fol­low­ing a shock­ing start to the cam­paign, opened the door for 43-year-old Sy­mons to take over as care­taker-manager, be­fore he sealed the job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis in Oc­to­ber.

Ful­ham were rock-bot­tom when Ma­gath left west Lon­don, but Sy­mons has helped them edge away from dan­ger.

Sy­mons plied his trade as a cen­tre-back for Portsmouth, Manch­ester City, Ful­ham and Crys­tal Palace, and Hutchinson thinks that knowl­edge ac­quired of the de­fen­sive arts has been a boost to his own game.

“He likes to break up the train­ing ses­sions. We do de­fence one day, we do at­tack­ing one day. On a Fri­day we do quite a lot of de­fen­sive work,” added Hutchinson.

“I’ve def­i­nitely learnt a lot since com­ing here. I’ve learnt a lot play­ing in de­fence, stuff that I didn’t

nec­es­sar­ily know be­fore. He’s def­i­nitely brought my game on.

“He con­cen­trates a lit­tle bit more on the de­fen­sive side, so he knows what to do. He’s not the type of manager to get on your case.

“He likes you to be free and be con­fi­dent all the time and to play freely. He gives you tips ev­ery now and then and ad­vises you. He’s def­i­nitely im­proved my game.”

The ex-Mother­well de­fender now wants to re­ward boss Sy­mons by help­ing Ful­ham pick up clean

sheets and climb the ta­ble.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

ALL-SMILES: Shaun Hutchinson cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing against Bolton

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