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Mark Hughes confident of Euro League place

last updated Monday 23rd May 2011, 12:55 PM

Fulham manager Mark Hughes
Fulham manager Mark Hughes
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Fulham are likely to have to wait until Thursday to find out if they have qualified for the Europa League through the fair play table.

The top-ranked team that has not already qualified for Europe gains entry to the competition.

Fulham were leaders when the fair play table was last published on 30 April, but Zoltan Gera was sent off in their final game, the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

Blackpool were the next highest eligible team, followed by West Ham.

"Match delegates" compile fair play reports for each Premier League game.

There has been speculation that Blackpool will qualify for the Europa League following Gera's sending off for Fulham.

However, the match delegates award points depending on a range of factors, not only the number of yellow and red cards a side receives.

They also consider "positive play", respect towards opponents and the behaviour of a club's officials.

The reports from Sunday's final round of Premier League matches have been filed with the Premier League, but must now be independently audited.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes is confident Fulham will qualify for Europe through the Fair Play league, despite Gera's sending off.

"I don't think it will have any bearing on our standing," he said. "We are still hopeful of being in Europe."

Substitute Gera had been on the pitch for only four minutes when he was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Hughes said he had no complaints about the decision. "The challenge was a genuine attempt to get the ball but when two feet are off the floor there is the potential to be sent off, as he was," he said.

"We were desperately disappointed for Zoltan. But we are judged over 38 games for our fair play, so I don't think it will affect our average too much."

Fulham were heading for three points before the red card. Hughes's side were leading 2-1 at the time, thanks to a header from Bobby Zamora, but a late leveller from Theo Walcott meant the London derby ended all square.

Earlier, Steve Sidwell had opened the scoring, but Robin van Persie restored parity.

Hughes, though, is delighted with his side's overall record since taking over last summer.

"The first part of the season was difficult," said the Welshman. "We lost Bobby Zamora to injury very early on and that was a huge loss to the way we wanted to play.

"I always knew we needed to be patient - we weren't playing badly in the first part of the season, we just lacked a cutting edge."

Source BBCSport
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