Saturday 17 March 2018

Defiant Hughes to fight on

Duncan Bech

Mark Hughes has shrugged off speculation that defeat to West Ham today could spell the end of his reign as Fulham manager. Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed is reported to be losing patience with Hughes, who has presided over a disappointing start to the season.

The Cottagers sit one place above the relegation zone in the Premier League on goal difference and Hughes' odds in the sack race have shortened. But the Welshman is convinced Fulham will start climbing the table, blaming their large number of draws on the absence of striker Bobby Zamora through injury.

"I haven't spoken to the chairman this week. It hasn't been discussed with me," said Hughes, who was appointed in July. "We have no apprehension about the games ahead of us. There will be speculation, there always is. There is nothing I can do about it. I don't particularly feel under pressure. I've been through this before.

"People at the club understand the difficulties we have had this year and that the work we do is good work. At some point in the future we will turn our results into positive results and begin moving up the table.

"We aren't scoring enough goals due to the personnel missing. It's about making sure we are still working hard and doing the right things and wait for something to change. That has been the case in recent weeks where we needed a break to get our noses in front."

With West Ham anchored to the foot of the Premier League, this showdown at Craven Cottage has plenty at stake. "We will remain positive. We are looking for a positive result against West Ham as that is important for us.

Fulham rate striker Mousa Dembele as 50-50 to make his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury five weeks ago.

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