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Hodgson says Europa League tougher than UEFA Cup

last updated Thursday 01st April 2010, 2:14 PM
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
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Fulham manager Roy Hodgson believes the Europa League is a far tougher competition to be successful in than when he was rampaging across Europe with Inter Milan.

In 1997 Hodgson guided Inter to the final of what was then the UEFA Cup before losing on penalties to Schalke.

Tonight he will attempt to lead Fulham a step closer to this season's showpiece when another German outfit, Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg, arrive at Craven Cottage for the first leg of their quarter-final.

It promises to be another memorable chapter in an adventure which began with a trip to Vetra Vilnius of Lithuania back in July and has since taken in, among others, Basle, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus.

"Ten months is a long time to be playing," admitted Hodgson.

"These will be our 16th and 17th games in this competition. When I got to the final with Inter, which was a double-headed final, we played 12 games.

"Now we'll have ended up playing 17 even if we go out, so it's half the season longer.

"That shows what we have achieved, and in reaching that final at Inter we did not encounter anything like the standard of opposition that we have had to meet here."

Hodgson rested five players for Saturday's defeat at Hull, a move which has reportedly irritated the Tigers' relegation rivals West Ham.

But the Cottagers chief is sticking to his guns over his team selection.

"We haven't prioritised," he said. "But in one particular game after we played Juventus, Manchester City and Tottenham and prior to playing Wolfsburg, I made the decision to rest four or five players knowing full well I had a right to do that with the quality I have at my disposal.

"It meant those players did not play five games in 12 days, when they have been playing five games in 12 days the rest of the time.

"It's never happened in my life before, I've never had a series where we played every three days for three months."

Midfielder Simon Davies insists aching limbs will not be a factor despite that punishing schedule.

"It's different, more mentally than physically, when the games come so close together but we're not suffering from that. Everyone's enjoying it and no-one's looking tired," he said.

"There's a lot of respect for Wolfsburg in our dressing room. They score a lot of goals so we definitely haven't underestimated them.

"It's the quarter-finals and we are paying the German champions. There's enough there to get us going."

Source Andy Sims at PASport
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