Socceroo Adam Taggart has returned to Fulham training a week early and is hoping a full pre-season can kick-start his stalled career in the 2015-16 season.
Taggart, 22, didn’t play once for the Cottagers last term after a year ruined by a pelvic injury.
He made several appearances for the club’s under-21s – and bagged a few goals – after the turn of the year, but was never fully over the injury.
The 2013-14 A-League golden boot winner returned to Perth in early May where he spent four weeks working with a pelvic specialist, building up strength and regaining his muscle memory, power and speed.
Taggart cut short a holiday in Bali afterwards to return to Fulham last week, hoping to impress manager Kit Symons in pre-season and win a first-team spot.
"I had a chat to Kit the other day to let him know my body is back to full fitness now and I want to be fighting for a position," Taggart told FourFourTwo.
"I wanted to come back here a week early to get back into the swing of things. I wanted to make sure I was in good stead for pre-season and to make sure people understand I’m taking this year seriously.
"I’m wanting to do, this year, originally what the club brought me here for and that’s to score goals for Fulham.
"I couldn’t do that last year due to injury. I need to make sure I’m not forgotten about after 12 months of injury problems."
Fulham are hoping to return to the Premier League after a disappointing first year back in the second tier, where they finished 17th after an awful start under Felix Magath.
The club has allowed several players to leave in the off-season, including forward Hugo Rodallega – who was a regular last term – and that could open the door for Taggart to break into the first team.
"I don’t see why not," Taggart said, when asked about cracking the first team.
"There’s competition here, they’re good players but I don’t see why I can’t get myself in there and fight for a position.
"There’s also a lot of games in the Championship. Even if you’re not a starting XI player, you’ll get that opportunity and once you’re in there, if you bang in a few goals, you never know what can happen."
Pre season going well so far pic.twitter.com/x20KbH7aD5
— Adam Taggart (@adamtaggart22) June 19, 2015
Taggart added that he felt refreshed following his first true off-season in three years after participating at the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Under-20 World Cup.
"It was nice mentally to have a break where I could sit down and really understand where I want to be heading," he said. "It was a good time to reflect and get away from football."
And it’s clear in his mind he wants to be at Craven Cottage.
In January, he was linked with a loan move away, while there has been A-League interest in him in the off-season.
Taggart rebuffed such talk and said any loan switches would be a "last resort".
"At the time in January was when I’d just come back from injury and we had a few discussions about it," he admitted.
"But at the moment I’m 100 per cent focused on getting myself in at Fulham. I came to this club to play for them. I didn’t come here to go out on loan.
"Being away has helped me understand what I want to do and that’s play for this football club.
"Going on loan is going to be last resort in my eyes.
"At the moment, there’s an opportunity to fight for a position and that’s my only focus.
"Until the day where it’s 100 per cent I won’t be playing, then I’ll be fighting every day for that position at Fulham."