Hughes hopeful of Euro place

Fulham went into the final day of the season third in the Premier
League’s Fair Play League behind Chelsea and Tottenham, who have
qualified for Europe anyway. However, with the final rankings not
calculated until Sunday’s games are taken into consideration,
Fulham face an anxious few days before they will discover if they
have stayed ahead of relegated Blackpool to be in contention. Gera
was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge at Arsenal
defender Thomas Vermaelen just minutes after having come on as a
substitute. Hughes, though, remains optimistic Fulham’s first such
incident of the season will not have a major role to play. “I am
hopeful it won’t have too much impact because it’s factored over 38
games,” said Hughes, who guided the Cottagers safely up the Premier
League table following a difficult start to his Fulham career.
“Eighth is some achievement and European football counts as an
outstanding season. We need to find out one way or another. We will
back in three weeks once we know. “European football can help when
you try to attract players to your club, so there is an intention
and will to do well in the competition.” Hungary midfielder Gera,
32, could have played his last game for Fulham as he is out of
contract, but Hughes added: “Zolly may feel he will get more
opportunities elsewhere, but ideally we would like him to stay. “We
would be very disappointed if his Fulham career ended on that
note.” Hughes, though, accepted there would be changes to the
playing staff over the summer, with men like Ghana international
John Pantsil set to leave. “We are trying to freshen up the squad
and the view is that we can look at other alternatives,” said the
Fulham boss. Steve Sidwell had swept Fulham in front on 26 minutes,
only for Robin van Persie to quickly equalise with his ninth
consecutive away goal. Bobby Zamora nodded the Cottagers back into
the lead just before the hour ahead of Gera’s dismissal – but a
late goal from Theo Walcott earned Arsenal a point as they finished
fourth behind FA Cup winners Manchester City. Zamora may well be in
contention for another England chance in the Euro 2012 qualifier
against Switzerland in June, but Hughes feels the striker needs
more recovery having just returned from injury and going off late
on yesterday. “I don’t think he is ready for any games at the end
of the season,” said Hughes. “Bobby needs a full pre-season and
once Premier League is starting again I would imagine he would be
very much in the England manager’s mind.”