Fulham signed Portuguese left-back Rafa Soares on loan from Liga NOS giants FC Porto during the summer transfer window, however after sustaining an ankle injury, the only regular appearances that he’s made for the club so far have been on the physiotherapist’s bed.
Much was expected of the 22-year-old upon his arrival at the Whites, and recently Slavisa Jokanovic was able to gauge the player’s underlying ability during the international break, when he lined-up against the Premier League’s Southampton at Staplewood, a behind-closed-doors encounter where Soares finally got a full 90-minutes under his belt as his new employees fell to a spirited 2-0 defeat.
Since his inclusion in the loss against the Saints, the Portugal U21 defender has successfully completed his first week in training at Motspur Park, leading to his confidence and hunger to perform to, well, soar. Ambitious to stamp his mark on Slavisa’s match-day fold, Soares is certainly raring to showcase his talents on the turf.
“I’m glad to be back and training with the first team,” he proclaimed in an interview given to Fulham FC TV. “It was a hard and tough recovery because it was a tough injury, I never thought I’d stop for so long but now I am fit and excited to play.
“I like the training because the style of the game is similar to what I played in Portugal last season so I think I will be fine.
“The PL2 game was good for me in terms of fitness because I gained confidence and now I am much better.”
With teenage sensation and club asset Ryan Sessegnon manfully marshalling the left flank for the South-West Londoners, Soares will understand the immensity of the competition for starting places in his particular position. However now that he is back to full compliment both physically and evidently mentally, Fulham will not be lacking in worthy, driven options in the defensive department along the left channel.
At home Soares is recognised by his nation as a player to watch out for in the future. Predominantly playing for Porto’s ‘B’ team, the full-back has in the past been loaned out to fellow Portuguese outfits Coimbra and most recently, Rio Ave FC.
Fulham will prove to be the perfect platform for his development over the coming weeks and months, and fans will expect to see nothing more than the very best from the rehabilitated starlet, both at Craven Cottage and on the road as the campaign thickens.
Fulham face Preston North-End down by the river on Saturday, so perhaps Soares will get an opportunity during the Championship tie’s proceedings to grace the turf against Alex Neil’s men in-front of a curious home support, who he will be desperate to impress.