Hodgson hopes for success in cups

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson would happily accept a mid-table finish in

the Premier League if it meant success in the FA Cup and Europa

League.

The Cottagers exceeded all expectations last season when they

finished seventh in the Premier League – their highest ever

top-flight finish.

Hodgson accepts they may struggle to rescale those heights,

but he still expects them to be safe from danger and will be more

than happy with that depending on their success in the FA Cup and

Europa League.

A quarter-final against Bolton or Tottenham beckons in the

cup while Thursday’s 2-1 first-leg victory over Shakhtar Donetsk

has given them a fine chance of progressing in Europe.

And, despite the workload placed on an injury-hit squad,

Hodgson expects them to perform on all fronts.

“We’re trying to compete in every competition,” he said. “The

FA Cup is very special and that quarter-final will probably be the

most important match we play in the coming weeks.

“But the game in Shakhtar is one we’ll definitely want to do

well in.

“We have another 12 games in the Premier League and we have

to make sure we continue producing performances like we did in the

first leg against Shakhtar.

“If we manage that then I’m confident we’ll get enough points

to put us in a comfortable position.

“If we manage to finish comfortably in the Premier League

this year after doing so well in the FA Cup and Europe, I’ll

compare this season with last season – even if we don’t finish so

high in the league.”

Fulham sit 10th in the Premier League on 34 points, one

victory adrift of Sunday’s visitors Birmingham and that is despite

a notable injury list that includes key players Andy Johnson, Clint

Dempsey and John Pantsil.

For Hodgson, the most pleasing aspect is the way his squad is

managing to adjust the workload that has seen them play a match

virtually every three days for the past five weeks.

“The way we’re balancing the competitions is exceeding my

expectations,” he said.

“It’s exceeding what we’re entitled to ask of the players.

There were some very tired people on the pitch against Shakhtar.

“We’re doing that with a very small squad because of the

injuries.

“Any credit and praise the players get during this period is

well deserved.

“Now it’s a question of recovery. This result has taken a lot

out of us and comes at the price of fatigue, tired legs and minds.

“The next two days are about getting ready physically and

mentally.”