Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Stephen Kelly joins Fulham
Ireland defender Stephen Kelly has become Fulham manager Roy Hodgson's first summer capture after leaving Birmingham City to sign a three-year deal at Craven Cottage.
"I'm delighted to have joined a progressive club which has recently achieved its highest ever top-flight finish," the defender said.
The 25-year-old made six appearances while on loan at Stoke last season.
He also played every minute of Blues' unsuccessful fight against Premier League relegation in 2007-8.
Kelly missed much of the early part of last season with a thigh injury and was allowed to leave for a temporary stint with Tony Pulis's Stoke side in February, after the arrival of fellow Ireland international Stephen Carr and Portsmouth's Djimi Traore at St Andrew's.
But he made only two starts for the Britannia Stadium side as he found his way into the side blocked by the solid form of right-back Andy Wilkinson.
He will compete with John Pantsil for the same role at Craven Cottage and will face a similarly tough task to win a regular first-team slot after the Ghana international missed just one game of the west London side's Premier League campaign.
"Stephen is a talented young full-back with experience of playing in the Premier League as well as competing at international level," said Hodgson.
"He will be a useful addition as we look to improve our squad ahead of the start of next season and I am hopeful that we will be able to announce further additions in the coming weeks."
Kelly is a graduate of Tottenham's youth academy and played 44 times for Spurs before heading to Birmingham in a £750,000 switch in June 2006.