Blackburn ROVERS boss Sam Allardyce hailed striker Benni McCarthy for setting up his side's first win in 10 Premier League games but warned the South African international must still be treated with caution.
McCarthy fired in the corner from which Chris Samba put Rovers ahead against Fulham at Ewood Park, then in the second half lofted in a free-kick for captain Ryan Nelsen to head home.
But player fatigue is one of the key issues facing Allardyce, with a heavy run of fixtures due to the two-legged Carling Cup semi-final, and he admits his more senior players, such as McCarthy, may struggle in this period.
Allardyce said: "Benni is a delicate situation because of the game scenario, so choosing his games is crucial for us. He has had some good performances for us but we need to be careful."
Allardyce had dropped David Dunn to the bench for the same reason and there were a few early signs that the gamble had not paid off as the home players visibly struggled with the pressure.
Allardyce added: "The pressure is felt by all of us. They were a really pleasing three points because the pitch was not in the best condition, the opposition were very good and we are in the middle of three games in six days."
McCarthy had the first chance after 24 minutes when he fired in a right-footed effort that Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer did well to poke over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Damien Duff's clearance came back off Samba and into the net.
Fulham came close in the 36th minute but Clint Dempsey's overhead kick struck the bar.
Rovers sealed the points on 54 minutes when Nelsen got on the end of McCarthy's free-kick.
After the match Fulham boss Roy Hodgson revealed American Dempsey will be out of action for some weeks: With both he and Bobby (Zamora) out, it makes us a bit weaker in that area."