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Fulham striker Zoltan Gera defends Roy Hodgson

last updated Wednesday 28th April 2010, 2:14 PM
Fulham midfielder Zoltan Gera
Fulham midfielder
Zoltan Gera
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Fulham striker Zoltan Gera has defended Roy Hodgson's right to rotate the team ahead of their Europa League semi-final showdown tomorrow.

The Cottagers boss has come under fire for his team selection in recent weeks, drawing criticism in particular from West Ham.

The late 2-1 defeat by Everton on Sunday was suffered by a team showing nine changes from the side that earned a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Europa League final away to Hamburg last week.

None of the absent players even featured on the bench but all are set to return at Craven Cottage tomorrow.

And Gera believes Hodgson has been right to use his squad with the club just 90 minutes away from the chance to compete for their first major trophy in their 131-year history.

The Hungarian said: "I didn't play against Everton, what's more I didn't even travel with the team. Our manager let me know after the Europa League game (in Hamburg) that I'll be rested in the Premier League with some of my team-mates.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't like this rest as our past weeks have been very tough. All the games have been very speedy and I could regenerate well during the weekend, especially after our long journeys.

"Our game in Hamburg was quite interesting. Everyone thought - me too - that we'd be tired after our day-long travel but I was fresher than ever."

Fulham go into tomorrow's match having prevented Ruud van Nistelrooy's Hamburg side from scoring on their home patch. Now they have the chance to add the Bundesliga outfit to the scalps of Roma, Juventus, holders Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg.

But Gera admits Fulham's task could have been even easier had they grabbed an away goal.

He went on: "I enjoyed the game. I was just a bit unhappy because I didn't manage to score, though I had the chance to do so at least twice.

It's a pity because an away goal, an away victory, would have been very good.

"Our goalless game is not the best omen because we had scored on all of our away games in the Europa League.

"Now it's be another game we have to win on home soil. If we don't win then we can go through with penalties. Of course I'd accept this [winning on penalties] if it meant that we could go into the final."

Meanwhile, Hamburg assistant coach Ricardo Moniz has been handed the manager's job full-time following the sacking of Bruno Labbadia earlier this week.

The role will be 45-year-old Moniz's first in management but the Dutchman does have experience of English football having worked with former Hamburg coach Martin Jol at Spurs for three years.

Hamburg chairman Bernd Hoffman said: "He is knowledgeable about English football and can therefore prepare the team in the best way for Thursday's return leg."

"We believe that Ricardo will be able to get that extra percentage out of us which had disappeared recently."

Source Darren Lewis at The Mirror
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