Cottagers in talks over Okaka loan

Okaka, 20, started both of this season’s Europa League matches

between the clubs and scored the winner at the Stadio Olimpico in

early November. Hodgson was impressed enough to look into taking

the Italy Under-20 international to Craven Cottage but faces

competition from Portsmouth. Roma are willing to allow Okaka to

depart after completing the loan signing of Luca Toni from Bayern

Munich on Thursday. “Okaka is a possibility for us. We’re looking

into it and have shown an interest,” said Hodgson. “How far we go

down that road will depend on other things like whether he wants to

come on loan to England. The finances of the situation will also be

important. “Okaka has got quality and the fact it’s a loan is also

advantageous because he’s a young player and largely untried.

“We’re happy with our striking options but we would like to have

some cover and someone who can put pressure on the guys we have.

“Okaka seems to be that type of player but a lot of water must pass

under the bridge before he pulls on a Fulham shirt.” Hodgson has

ruled out signing a replacement for the injured John Pantsil, who

could be out for the rest of the season. The popular Ghana

right-back suffered knee ligament damage in the 2-1 defeat by

Chelsea on Monday and will definitely miss the African Nations Cup.

Whether he requires surgery will determine if he plays again this

term, with the most dire prognosis threatening his participation at

the World Cup. “We won’t know how long John will be out for until

Saturday when our specialist returns,” said Hodgson. “We want him

to have a look at John before we make any decisions. The scan shows

there is damage to the posterior cruciate ligament. “We’re talking

about a period of rehabilitation of eight to 12 weeks, whatever

happens. “It could be that the damage is sufficiently bad that he

might require an operation. If that’s the case he’ll be out for

another four to six weeks. “It’s really bad news for us and for

John as well because he was voted Ghana player of year and has been

playing very well. “Now he’s looking ahead to a long period of

rehabilitation.” Brede Hangeland has an outside chance of appearing

in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Swindon at Craven

Cottage. Hangeland missed the defeat at Stamford Bridge with a knee

injury but has made encouraging progress. “Brede is coming along

well. He’ll be touch and go for Saturday and we won’t make a

decision until the morning of the game,” said Hodgson. “He’s worked

well with our medical staff and will probably join in with the team

tomorrow at some level.”