Hughes: Cottagers up to the challenge
The Cottagers travel to Stoke on Tuesday for the third round of the Carling Cup - the second of three matches in eight days. Hughes, who was appointed Fulham manager in late July, is ready to select his strongest available line-up once again as he continues to asses the strength of his side. "I made the point before and after the last round that we are very early in the season and we don't need to make many changes," he said. "From a new manager's point of view, I want to see the core elements of my team play as much as possible. "That might be different for other clubs who have managers who know their teams inside out. "That is a different situation, but for me it helps seeing them play as many times as I can. "Physically we recover as well as anybody and we never compromise by playing anybody when they are not fully recovered, so it's not an issue. "I made the point before and after the last round against Port Vale that we're very early in the season and I don't think you need to make that many changes." Fulham have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season but Hughes is determined to address the abysmal away form that continues to hinder the club's progress. So far this term they have secured draws at Bolton, Blackpool and Blackburn, but have not won on their travels in the Premier League for over a year. Hughes is encouraged by what he has seen so far but wants to make the breakthrough, even if it comes in the Carling Cup. "I've come into a new club and am trying new things and not dismantling what was there but adding a more positive slant, certainly away from home," he said. "It's been a good start in those terms and we will look to keep that going against Stoke, who are always very strong at home." The 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Saturday was Fulham's first game without Bobby Zamora and Hughes is confident they can still thrive without their star striker, who is out with a broken leg. "Last Saturday was our first game without Bobby and obviously we're going to miss him because he's a quality player who was the main focus of our attack," he said. "That was the intention this year and Bobby was going to be a big part of what we did. "He's going to missing for possibly five months and we've got to get on with it. "I've got good players that can come in and make an impact for us. "We can't look at players that aren't here - we've got to look at the ones we have and make sure they have an impact and I think they did on Saturday against Blackburn."