Hughes hopeful of Euro place

Hughes hopeful of Euro place

Published May. 23, 2011 10:11 a.m. ET

Fulham boss Mark Hughes is crossing his fingers Zoltan Gera's last-day red card will not cost the Cottagers a place in the Europa's League.

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."