Europa League

Cottagers boss faces injury worries

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Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is facing a potential injury crisis for next week's Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.

Damien Duff was withdrawn at half-time during Wednesday night's shock 1-0 defeat to Stoke with a leg muscle injury.

Sun., May 22
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The Cottagers will monitor the influential winger over the next few days while Hodgson revealed Bobby Zamora, who was left out of tonight's squad due to an Achilles injury, is "touch and go" to make the final in Hamburg.

"Duff was taken off at half time because he took a kick a while ago and we think one of his muscles was cramping up," said Hodgson.

"That was a blow of course. We hope it's not too serious.

"I hope he'll be fit for the final. There's a week to go now. The medical staff don't think it's a muscle tear or anything like that.

"They think that it's something to do with a kick he took a while ago which is switching off the muscle.

"Bobby stands a chance of making it but he's not making vast amounts of progress on a daily basis so it could be touch and go."

Fulham suffered only their fifth league home defeat of the season thanks to Matthew Etherington's 82nd-minute strike.

The Stoke winger's goal came after Ricardo Fuller's cross skimmed off substitute Tuncay to fall in front of the former West Ham player, who beat Mark Schwarzer off the woodwork from 15 yards.

Hodgson criticised referee Peter Walton after he allowed the goal to stand despite replays showing the cross flicked off Tuncay's arm.

"It's very disappointing to lose, especially seeing as the evidence showed it was handball which deflected the ball over for the goal," he continued.

"When you consider the few chances we conceded it was very harsh to lose 1-0.

"It was an easy night for the referee. He didn't have much to do but it's the big decisions that count.

"We'll have to accept it though, that's the way things go. I'm sure it was a genuine error.

"The Stoke player admitted to Aaron Hughes it was handball apparently but we'll pick ourselves up for next week now."

Hodgson admitted next week's tie, the club's biggest in their 131-year history, could have affected his side's below-par performance in what was their last home game of the season.

"We haven't changed anything in terms of preparation but that's not to say that it won't be in their minds," Hodgson continued.

"I'm sure with some of the challenges that were flying around that they might be thinking about injuries."

The win capped an eventful fortnight for Tony Pulis, who has seen his side bounce back from a 7-0 hammering at Chelsea with a draw at Everton and tonight's win at Craven Cottage.

"Roy picked his best side tonight but we showed great resilience and spirit," said the Stoke boss.

"I think it's been a great response from the players.

"We got beaten 7-0 at Chelsea two games ago and we have played a top team in Everton midweek and we have won here tonight.

"We have had two clean sheets now so that shows our spirit of togetherness."

The win puts the Potters on 47 points ahead of their final game of the season against Manchester United.

The points total is two more than they achieved in the whole of last season, which was their first in the Barclays Premier League.

"We're only the second club to have beaten their points tally in their second season so so much for second-season syndrome," said Pulis.

"That's a fantastic achievement for everyone at the club."

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