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Monday 22 September 2014

Magath not feeling any nerves

Published 25/04/2014 | 17:07

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Felix Magath is not feeling the heat

Fulham manager Felix Magath is convinced the likes of "small town" relegation rivals Norwich, Sunderland and Cardiff will all be feeling the pressure more in the dogfight for Barclays Premier League survival than his side are down on the banks of the Thames at Craven Cottage.

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Veteran midfielder Scott Parker suggested things were getting "very tense, very nervy" as the season draws towards a conclusion, with Fulham having won two of their last three matches to close back in on safety.

Magath's side, two points adrift, could climb out of the bottom three with victory over FA Cup finalists Hull at home on Saturday.

The German believes with so much attention placed on the fortunes of the other teams fighting to stay up, that could just work in Fulham's favour, tucked away in leafy west London.

"In my opinion I think the atmosphere at Norwich or Sunderland or Cardiff will be more nervous than here," said Magath, appointed in mid-February as the club's third manager of the season.

"We are under pressure, but not so as under pressure as these clubs from the small towns where the whole town is behind the club.

"For Sunderland, it will be a much more interesting thing, the football club (for the town) than Fulham is here in London."

Fulham certainly have, on paper at least, a more favourable run-in than the teams around them, with a trip to Stoke ahead of the final match against Crystal Palace, who are safe on 40 points following an amazing turnaround under Tony Pulis.

Magath feels his side's fate remains in their own hands.

"I am convinced we will stay up if we win our home games, but we have another game next week away at Stoke and there is always a chance to win three points," he said.

"We will not only try to win at our home games, we try to win every game."

Fulham club-record signing Kostas Mitroglou has returned to training following a knee injury, but is not about to be thrown straight into action.

Mahamadou Diarra (knee), Kieran Richardson (hamstring) and Sascha Riether (illness) are all available having missed the defeat at Tottenham.

Midfielder Lewis Holtby can also feature having been ineligible to play against his parent club last weekend.

Hull expect to have strikers Shane Long and Sone Aluko fit.

Aluko missed last week's defeat to Arsenal with a hamstring injury and Long was replaced at half-time with a calf complaint, but both are due to travel to Craven Cottage, where Matty Fryatt, Yannick Sagbo and Nikica Jelavic are also hoping to get the nod up front.

Injured Hull duo Allan McGregor and Paul McShane are fighting to be fit for the FA Cup final.

Neither player expected to play again this season, with McGregor suffering three broken ribs and a badly damaged kidney against West Ham last month and McShane missing since February 11 due to ankle ligament damage.

But with the Tigers booking a Wembley date against Arsenal on May 17, the pair are attempting to put themselves in contention for the showpiece.

With time running short and only three league matches remaining, starting with Fulham on Saturday, odds remain against either proving their fitness in time.

But Hull manager Steve Bruce is happy to give Scotland goalkeeper McGregor and Republic of Ireland defender McShane every chance.

"Allan is jogging on the training ground and he's making a desperate effort to be fit," said Bruce.

"I'm not going to stop it but obviously he's got three broken ribs and a damaged kidney. Despite that he's doing his very best to be fit for the FA Cup final.

"If he's making those strides I'm not going to say 'whoah, Allan, you're not going to be playing'.

"If he can make himself available then great.

"Paul is due to be training on Saturday after nine weeks out with his ankle as well and I'm not going to rule anyone out yet."

Press Association

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