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Fulham at Middlesbrough: Match Preview

last updated Friday 17th April 2009, 4:00 PM

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson will make late checks on Zoltan Gera and Toni Kallio before the trip to the Riverside.

Gera has been struggling with a foot injury and Kallio is recovering from a virus.

Team Middlesbrough Fulham
Games Played 32 32
Goal Attempts
Goals 25 33
Ave Goals per game 0.78 1.03
Shots (excl blocked shots) 303 311
% Shots on Target 39% 41%
% Goals to Shots 8% 11%
Short Passes 9,200 11,488
Long Passes 1,784 1,950
Overall Pass Completion % 73% 75%
Total Crosses 814 668
Cross Completion % 23% 23%
Goals Conceded 47 28
Ave goals conceded per game 1.47 0.88
Tackles 653 711
Tackles Won % 74% 73%
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 2013 2054
Fouls 381 381
Yellow Cards 47 33
Red Cards 3 1
Tom Walker at Setanta Sport
Hodgson has no fresh injury problems in his squad and has praised the role played by former Middlesbrough keeper Mark Schwarzer in helping to turn his side from relegation candidates to Europa League hopefuls.

The Australian makes his first return to his former club having conceded just 28 league goals this season and the former Inter Milan boss has hailed him as one of the signings of the season.

"We didn't buy him of course, he was a free transfer,'' Hodgson said. "So in that respect, if the transfer cost to Fulham was zero he must be the best signing of the season.

"He's been a major contributor to the success. He's had an outstanding season, the goalkeeper we thought he was. His performances have been unbelievably consistent and the way he deals with shots and crosses has been very good.

"The stability he has brought to the team is something you can see in the confidence the back four have in him.''

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones will face Fulham despite dislocating his finger last week. The Australian played the second half of last weekend's 3-1 win over Hull with his finger strapped up.

French midfielder Didier Digard could be involved in the squad after making a quicker than expected return from thigh and knee problems, but skipper Emanuel Pogatetz (knee) remains on the sidelines, while Gary O'Neil completes a two-match ban.

Boro manager Gareth Southgate is still hopeful that his men can avoid relegation to the Championship, despite going into the clash with the Cottagers two points adrift of safety.

"You never give up hope,'' he said. "Whatever situation you are in in life, if you give up hope, then you are beaten.

"You can't ever afford to think that way. We realise how difficult the task ahead of us is and we are very realistic about it.

"Some people would say you have to be optimistic - I think you have still got to be realistic.

"It's (the Hull game) one win, nothing more. It gave people hope.''

Pivotal Player: Tuncay Sanli. Boro's classiest performer by far, this man's creativity holds the key to creating and scoring the goals that could keep them up.

Prediction: 1-1

Source soccernet
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