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Roy Hodgson expects tough game with Blackburn

last updated Monday 23rd November 2009, 9:19 PM
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson
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Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has confirmed both Danny Murphy and Andy Johnson are in contention for a first-team return in Wednesday's Barclays Premier League match against Blackburn.

Central midfielder Murphy, who captains the Cottagers, has been absent for the past six weeks with knee ligament damage while striker Johnson has been sidelined for more than a month with a groin problem.

However, the pair have been in full training over the past three days and Hodgson is weighing up whether to include them in his side to take on Rovers at Craven Cottage.

"It's good to see them back in training," Hodgson said.

"They have done two training sessions now and the good thing is that in both sessions, they have come through totally unscathed.

"Having them available this week isn't out of the question.

"The longer I can leave it for Danny and AJ, the better it is. Who knows when I have to throw them back in? But they are both in contention."

Hodgson could have done with the cutting edge of Johnson and Murphy at the weekend.

Fulham dominated the majority of their match against Birmingham at St Andrew's but still lost 1-0, a result that saw the Londoners slip to 12th position in the league table.

Hodgson picked up the Manager of the Month award for October but in the Cottagers' two Premier League games in November, they have only collected one point.

Hodgson insists the confidence in his squad has not been dented and is tipping his team to bounce back on Wednesday, especially with two of his key performers available again.

"Normally, if you play the way we did against Birmingham, which from about the 15th or 20th minute was a pretty one-sided match, you are going to create chances and score some goals," Hodgson said.

"It didn't happen for us on Saturday but I am very confident that if we continue playing in the same way, particularly if we have people like Murphy and Johnson back to full fitness, the goals will come."

Hodgson revealed striker Diomansy Kamara will be out for up to three weeks with a knee injury which will be operated on tonight.

But the Fulham manager is looking forward to welcoming left-winger Damien Duff back into his team.

The Republic of Ireland star was on the bench at the weekend, with Hodgson opting not to start a player who was recovering from a traumatic week on the international stage that ended with his country denied a place in the World Cup finals by the infamous Thierry Henry handball in Paris last Wednesday.

"I don't think it took him long to get over that emotionally, a day or two I'm sure," Hodgson said of Duff.

"It was a cruel blow that they were subjected to, missing out the way they did. Only time will heal the wound."

Hodgson expects the match against Blackburn, who climbed a place above Fulham thanks to a 2-0 victory at Bolton yesterday, to be tight.

He was the manager of the northern club for just over a season at the back-end of the 1990s and knows all about the mentality of the Ewood Park club.

"I have a lot of respect for them and the people at the club. They have done fantastically well," Hodgson added.

"Like ourselves, they are a team who have to work really hard every year to keep up its level and make sure their Premiership status is secure.

"They have done exceptionally well over the last 10 years, as we have. It's one of those like-versus-like battles and it's important we play well and get a result.

"Their results have been good for them. They have leapfrogged us in the table and we know what qualities they have, and what they are capable of doing."

Source Sporting Life
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