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.”