Hodgson juggles to defend lead
Thursday 27 August 2009
Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager , has a host of injury concerns ahead of tonight's Europa League play-off second leg away to Amkar Perm.
The Cottagers, already without Andy Johnson, will also be missing Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky as they seek to defend a 3-1 first-leg lead.
Johnson suffered a broken collarbone in that encounter last Thursday at Craven Cottage, while Murphy, Zamora and Konchesky all picked up knocks in the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Hodgson has yet to decide who he will bring into his side for the match at the Zvezda Stadium – which has an artificial pitch – but knows there is still work for Fulham to do in Russia. "Our tactics won't differ from the tactics from the first match," he said. "Obviously we would also like to score a goal here. We have our way of playing, which we work hard on and rehearse, and hopefully we will be able to play well, and if we play well we have a good chance of winning the match.
"We have some players missing after the game on Sunday against Chelsea and of course the game on Thursday against Amkar. I will have to make some changes to the team and will think about that overnight before making a final decision.
"They [Amkar] have good chances," Hodgson added. "I think at 3-0 it would have been much easier for us but the late goal by [Viktor] Grishin has given Amkar a good chance and a 2-0 victory would put them through on away goals. They have a much better chance than looked likely 15 minutes from the end of the game."
Fulham touched down in Perm in the early hours of yesterday morning, almost 48 hours before kick-off. Hodgson managed to laugh off a rather bizarre welcome from a group of Amkar fans at the airport. Dressed in capes and holding scythes, the group of around 20 supporters displayed a banner on which was drawn two sets of five coffins either side of a cross with the word "Johnson" written on it.
A group of around 10 fans fitted with breathing masks also met the team coach as the players arrived for training. Amkar have officially apologised for the incident through their website and promised to punish those responsible, but Hodgson brushed it off.
"It was quite amusing I thought. What else can I say? I wasn't expected to take it seriously was I?" the Fulham manager added.
Amkar Perm manager Dimitar Dimitrov believes his side have every chance of overturning their first-leg deficit. He said: "The mood in the side is good ahead of this important game. I think we have a great chance tomorrow and we have the self-belief."
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