Hodgson admits change in priorities

BY foxsports • March 20, 2010

The Cottagers welcome Manchester City to Craven Cottage on Sunday as they look to repeat the level of performance that allowed them to thrash Juventus and confirm their place in the last eight of the Europa League. Hodgson's side have also reached the same stage in the FA Cup this year and they could book a semi-final date against Portsmouth at Wembley if they overcome Harry Redknapp's Tottenham in a replay on Wednesday. The west London side currently sit 10th in the Premier League table and 14 points clear of the relegation zone after a successful league campaign built largely on a solid home record. Hodgson believes an injury crisis in February ended his side's chances of qualifying for Europe through the league and he will now seek to ensure his side's place in next year's Europa League by giving priority to both cup competitions. "I don't think we'll go down this year," the 62-year-old said. "Maybe we're a few points short but I'm pretty confident that we will do it, so there's no doubt that the two cup competitions will now take priority, particularly the one on Wednesday, but that might be a competition that come Thursday we won't have to worry about because that game at Tottenham is by no means a given." With significant prize money on offer, Hodgson is keen not to watch his side's league campaign dwindle into obscurity. He will also be careful not to risk the wrath of the Premier League, who handed Wolves a suspended £25,000 fine after manager Mick McCarthy fielded a weakened team against Manchester United earlier this season. Hodgson believes he will have no trouble motivating his players for league games. "I think in the Premier League, with the quality of the opposition, the interest in the game, the full stadiums of people, the cheering the intensity and the speed of the game, I think it will be very difficult for a serious professional footballer not to be up for games," he said. Hodgson will welcome back Jonathan Greening and captain Danny Murphy for tomorrow's game at Craven Cottage, where Fulham are unbeaten in seven. Like Fulham, City have been unable to repeat their good home form on their travels, with the Blues losing at Hull, Stoke and Everton among others so far this term. Nevertheless, Hodgson knows his side will still face a tough task to keep the likes of Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez under wraps tomorrow. "I haven't thought that much about who they have lost and who they have beat but it's comforting to think that they have lost against some of the so-called 'lesser teams'," said Hodgson, who will come up against fellow former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini tomorrow. "They do have a lot of good players though and they have obviously spent a lot of money on a team that is capable of winning the Premier League just as Chelsea did a few years before them, and I'm certain that they will be very disappointed if they don't get into the top four."