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North Queensland’s Fatty Fowler

Questions raised over Robbie Fowler’s fitness “don’t hold water” with a bemused North Queensland Fury.

And Socceroos veteran Craig Moore has backed the superstar striker, saying Fowler might just “improve the game” Down Under.

While the A-League newcomers hope to whip Fowler into peak condition by injecting him into all of their preseason games, Fury boss Don Matheson says criticism of the Liverpool legend’s body shape has not been taken seriously.

When North Queensland initially announced its major coup, cynics questioned Fowler’s value considering his age – 34 earlier this month – and lack of recent top flight football.

Renewed speculation over his fitness has begun, with The Daily Telegraph today claiming Fowler was “plump looking” while training in Townsville – with an accompanying picture.

But Mr Matheson is so confident Fowler is on track that he hopes his trump card will feature heavily in a preseason schedule of up to 14 matches in ports as diverse as regional North Queensland, Perth and south-east Asia.

“I wouldn’t take too much notice of it, knowing Robbie and knowing where the staff are with his fitness,” Mr Matheson said of the report.

“You can run a picture from any angle and criticise, but in this case it doesn’t hold any water with us.

“You’ve got to look at the credibility of the person who writes that stuff.

“But for us to get caught up in negatives like that is just a waste of energy.”

Mr Matheson said Fury staff were more than happy with Fowler’s progress since his arrival in Australia a month earlier than expected for preseason training.

“Robbie has another two to three months to get ready,” Mr Matheson said.

“He is an athlete. He knows what it is going to take, what condition he needs to be in – far better than what that reporter would understand.

“We’ve got a great coaching staff. That (his body shape) is not something that concerns us.”

Hectic preseason

The Fury are nailing down a preseason schedule that is set to feature two games against state rivals the Roar, a trip to Perth to meet English Premier League newcomer Wolverhampton and a mooted three-match tour of Singapore and Malaysia.

“Every game Robbie is fit for he will play, hopefully he can play every one,” Mr Matheson said.

Meanwhile, Moore came out in support of Fowler in Brisbane today.

“Out of Dwight Yorke it is the biggest signing the league has made,” Moore said.

“Robbie Fowler has had a fantastic career and after listening to what he has said in the press he is not coming out for a holiday.

“He wants to work hard to improve the game.

“He still obviously feels he has something to offer. I think that is a great thing.”

Asked if Fowler had put his reputation on the line by signing with the Fury, Moore said: “I think wherever you go you put your reputation on the line.

“But someone like Robbie Fowler, he has played under pressure all his life so it will be no different over here – it is just another chapter of his career.”

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Real Football

Published on May 1, 2009

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