Hughes hints at Schwarzer stay

The Cottagers number one, who has been nursing a back injury, has

been the subject of Arsenal’s attention this summer, but two

£2million bids from the Gunners have already been rejected.

David Stockdale has impressed in place of Schwarzer between the

sticks in Fulham’s two opening Premier League games, keeping a

clean sheet at Bolton in their curtain-raiser before frustrating

Manchester United in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage on Sunday. But

while pleased with the younger shot-stopper’s display, Hughes is

adamant the 37-year-old Australia international’s move to Arsenal

is not set in stone. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that Mark will

leave,” Hughes told the Guardian. “We’re all aware of Arsenal’s

interest. It’s not a surprise because he’s an outstanding

goalkeeper and they obviously feel they have an issue with their

own goalkeeper.” Stockdale, making only his third start in the top

flight, produced a solid performance against United, saving a Nani

penalty three minutes from time which paved the way for Brede

Hangeland’s late strike following his earlier own goal. But despite

the 25-year-old former Darlington player’s strong start to the

campaign, Hughes admits he is seeking the security of a more

experienced shot-stopper. “Stockdale has done very well and is a

good young keeper,” added Hughes. “We’ve been impressed with what

we’ve seen since we’ve been here, and he’s arguably been the star

man in both games. “He’s been outstanding and, had this game gone

to 3-1, it would have been United’s. “We’re pleased with what he’s

producing at the moment but it’s always difficult for young

keepers. They get by initially on adrenalin and enthusiasm, but can

they keep it up over time? It’s a long season and you’ve got to be

careful with them.” Stockdale, meanwhile, is refusing to get

carried away following his good work so far this season. “That’s

another showing I can go to the manager with and say: ‘There you

go. That’s what I can do,'” said Stockdale. “I was just trying to

get the lads out of the deep muck. It’s hard enough trying to

dislodge Mark Schwarzer at the best of times but I’ll just take it

day by day now and see what happens.”