Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bullard's Comeback Threatens to Spoil the Cottage Tea Party; as Fulham Prepare to Sign a Deal with the Boston Red Sox Their Celebrations Tonight Could Be Upset by the Return of an Old Favourite

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bullard's Comeback Threatens to Spoil the Cottage Tea Party; as Fulham Prepare to Sign a Deal with the Boston Red Sox Their Celebrations Tonight Could Be Upset by the Return of an Old Favourite

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

FULHAM are set to mark their 130th anniversary game at home to Hull by confirming a deal with the company that markets World Series baseball winners the Boston Red Sox. It is understood that Fulham have entered into a promotional arrangement with the Fenway Sports Group, the holding company behind the Red Sox, who will market the club in the United States. Fenway SG, also involved in professional golf and NASCAR motor racing, wants to exploit the growing interest in Premier League football on the other side of the Atlantic.

That could see Roy Hodgson's team playing a friendly in Fenway Park, opened in 1912 and the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use. Sam Kennedy, chief operating officer for the Red Sox, said: "Both clubs have a strong heritage and strong local ties in the cities in which they play." Of more immediate concern for Hodgson is the likely return for tonight's Premier League game of ex-Fulham favourite Jimmy Bullard. The midfielder has not played for Hull's first team since he suffered a second serious knee injury 37 minutes into his debut after Phil Brown paid a club record [pounds sterling]5million for him in January.

But he scored last week for the reserves and team-mate Kevin Kilbane can't wait to have Bullard back. The Republic of Ireland international said: "Certainly, having Jimmy back on the training ground has been a big plus over the last few weeks. "He is a great player and I think he is going to show that now. He feels he has something to prove because he got injured straight away. He is like a new signing for us. He is coming in fresh and full of beans." That is Hodgson's main concern. He admitted: "We fear Jimmy as an opponent. He's a very good technician and a good player. On the other hand, we're pleased to see him back on a football field and we congratulate him for putting in the enormous effort it must have taken to get there."

Especially as Bullard had previously gone nearly 18 months on the sidelines after dislocating a kneecap and suffering ligament damage while playing for Fulham at Newcastle in September 2006. …

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