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Roy of the Fulham makes Premiership priority

last updated Friday 28th August 2009, 11:04 AM
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
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Fulham boss Roy Hodgson paid tribute to his side's versatility after injury-hit Fulham battled to an aggregate win over Amkar Perm in Russia and qualified for the Europa League group stage.

Fulham, who were without six key players for the match on Europe's eastern frontier, went through 3-2 on aggregate despite losing 1-0 on the night.

And with six more games now to fit into a busy autumn schedule, the 62-year manager old was realistic in his assessment of his teams priorities for the coming season.

"We won't give it (the Europa League) priority, that's for sure," he said.

"The priority for teams like ourselves is always going to be survival in the Premier League.

"But, on the other hand, thanks to the chairman generously allowing me to bring in some more players, we do now have a squad of players, I think, who are capable, as we saw today, of representing the club and doing a good job for the club.

"If people are now expecting me to play three times a week with the same XI, then that will be a mistake. That won't be happening.

"We will be changing players and we will be resting players and we will be using other players.

"But I don't think that's not taking the competition seriously and it's not showing any disrespect to the tournament.

"It's quite simply that all teams that find themselves in this position need to use their squad of players.

"Today we have seen good performances from players. All the players that came in tonight have shown that they have the quality and to play at the very highest level.

"We'll be putting them under that pressure again in the coming matches and be asking that of them because it would be naive to believe we can do it with just 11 players."

Fulham will return to England early this morning to prepare for Sunday's away match at Aston Villa - a match for which Hodgson hopes his side will be back to near full strength.

Clint Dempsey, Paul Konchesky, Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy all missed out in Perm due to injury but are expected to be back in contention for the match in Birmingham, although Andy Johnson remains sidelined.

Source Daniel Darby at PA Sport
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