Hodgson: Give Okaka time to settle

Okaka has joined the west London club on loan from Serie A giants

Roma until the end of the season with a view to a permanent

transfer. The Italy Under-21 international made his debut for the

Cottagers in their 1-0 win over Portsmouth in the Premier League on

Wednesday night, a result which brought to an end a five-match

losing streak for Hodgson’s side. Okaka missed a golden opportunity

to mark his debut with a goal in the first half after he glanced a

header wide from five yards out. The 20-year-old’s power and pace

did cause the Pompey defence some problems though and he will get

plenty of opportunities to make amends for his miss with Andy

Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Zoltan Gera all out with injuries.

However, Hodgson has warned that it will take a long time for Okaka

to adapt to the English game. “I think Okaka’s going to take a lot

of time. He’s a young raw player and had Erik Nevland not had that

toe problem he would not have started,” the former Inter Milan boss

said. “He doesn’t speak a word of English at the moment and my

Italian’s nowhere near as good as it used to be. “I’m sure he will

get better and I’m sure he will turn out to be a useful signing for

us. “But he’s not a saviour by any stretch of the imagination. He’s

a player we were able to get in on loan for this period of time and

a player who has some interesting characteristics that we might be

able to use, but he’s not the man who will carry us. “We’re not

saying don’t worry if Andy Johnson’s not around because we have

Stefano Okaka, that would be placing far too much responsibility on

his shoulders.” Okaka’s last match for Roma before joining Fulham

saw him score a clever backheeled winner for Claudio Ranieri’s side

against Siena. Despite the glaring miss on Wednesday, the Fulham

fans gave Okaka a standing ovation when he was replaced by Nevland

with 20 minutes left. Hodgson, who takes his side to Bolton on

Saturday, believes the Italian will be able to get over the miss

sooner rather than later. “I told him not to worry about it,” the

62-year-old said. “He’s devastated by it because in Italy mistakes

are magnified 100 times and I think it would take him years to live

it down over there, but it will probably only take a few weeks

here. “If I was him I would put it into perspective by looking at

the wonderful backheeled goal for Roma the other day.” Hodgson was

delighted with the performance of another debutant, namely

left-back Nicky Shorey, whose six-month loan deal from Aston Villa

was agreed on deadline day. “He was outstanding, he’s a very good

player,” Hodgson said. “We know what an accomplished Premier League

player he is. It was just a case of him solving the problem we’ve

had at left-back since Paul Konchesky got injured at Blackburn.”