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Fulham welcome West Brom

last updated Monday 03rd January 2011, 10:13 PM

Fulham have a chance to escape the relegation zone and save Mark Hughes' job when they play host to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.

Fulham are 18th on the Premier League table with 19 points, one point clear of bottom side Wolverhampton and one point away from West Ham United in 16th.

The Cottagers fell into the drop zone with a 3-1 loss to West Ham on Boxing Day, the culmination of an eight-game winless streak.

That failure prompted owner Mohamed Fayed to reportedly give boss Hughes three games with which to produce a victory and prevent his axing.

Since then, the Cottagers have run out 2-0 winners at Stoke City and made a strong showing in a 1-0 loss at Tottenham.

A visit by struggling West Brom will be seen as a chance to inject further life into Fulham's season, as will the likely return of striker Moussa Dembele.

Dembele has been sidelined since November with an ankle injury, and the absence of fellow forward Bobby Zamora due to a broken leg has left the Cottagers short of options up front.

West Brom have fallen to 14th on the table with 22 points following consecutive defeats to Aston Villa (2-1), Bolton Wanderers (2-0), Blackburn Rovers (3-1) and Manchester United (2-1).

Roberto Di Matteo's men can take some solace in the absence of Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who is away on international duty with Australia's Asian Cup squad.

Worryingly, however, replacement stopper David Stockdale was being touted for an England call-up before an untimely ankle injury ended his four-match unbeaten run early in the season.

Hughes has backed Stockdale to excel during Schwarzer's likely four-week absence.

"He did really well at the start of the season," the manager said.

"Had it not been for his injury he would probably have made the England squad. He made a real impression when he came in and with Mark absent we've got to hope he makes a similar impression."

"He's been training well and he has been aware that this period has been coming up so he's ready for it."

"He's a good young goalkeeper and at some point in the future he needs to play regularly at first team level. He made a great start at the beginning of the season and we want that to continue.

Di Matteo also has issues in defence, with Steven Reid (knee) and Pablo Ibanez (hamstring) ruled out of the trip to Fulham after suffering injuries in the loss to United.

They join Jonas Olsson (Achilles) and Gabriel Tamas (suspension) on the sidelines, though Gonzalo Jara will be available for selection after serving a one-match ban.
Source Soccerway
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