Bobby Zamora must earn Fulham place back

Fulham manager Mark Hughes today insisted striker Bobby Zamora can no longer expect to walk straight back into the Fulham side when he returns from his broken leg.

Zamora is on the brink of making his comeback from almost five months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery in September.

Fulham struggled badly in his absence towards the end of 2010, with an eight-match winless run ultimately seeing them sucked into the Barclays Premier League drop zone.

But they go into tomorrow's trip to Aston Villa having won six of their last nine games in all competitions and 12th in the league table.

The return of Zamora's fellow forwards Moussa Dembele and Andy Johnson from injury has revitalised the Cottagers and Hughes insists last season's talisman now has a real fight on to reclaim his place.

"He understands that the squad is evolving now and the squad is getting bigger and stronger," said Hughes, who this week added Eidur Gudjohnsen to his pool of forwards.

"Bobby knows that he needs to work hard to get back in the side but, given his desire to get back in, that shouldn't faze him at all."

Leaving out a fit Zamora would have been unthinkable last season, with Fulham nowhere near the same side when the 30-year-old was absent.

That also looked to be the case after he broke his leg, until the Cottagers' recent run.

"Bobby was a big factor in the success of the team last year, when he was the focal point of the team's attacking play," Hughes said.

"So, to take him out of the team so early in the season was obviously going to have a detrimental effect on us.

"We've missed Moussa Dembele for almost half the Premier League games we've been involved in, so that was a loss as well.

"In recent weeks we've been able to welcome him back and, obviously, Andy Johnson's playing really, really well at the moment."

Gudjohnsen's arrival on loan from Stoke will make Zamora's task even more difficult and the Icelander will be eager to silence his critics after his move to Stoke failed to work out.

"Maybe he's got a little bit of a point to prove because a lot of people maybe have questioned where his career is at," Hughes said. "He obviously wants to put that right and there's no reason why he can't do."

Gudjohnsen will hope to do enough to earn a permanent deal in the summer, when Hughes will also decide whether or not to renew full-back John Pantsil's contract.

"What everybody has to do is just play well from now until the end of the season and, no doubt, we will have conversations," Hughes added.

Hughes has already tied down captain Danny Murphy and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to new deals and the latter's importance to the cause was demonstrated on Wednesday night when he was immediately recalled following Australia's Asian Cup campaign.

"Mark's my number one keeper," Hughes said. "It's been hard on David Stockdale, in fairness, because he's a young keeper with a great future."

Hughes insisted Stockdale "understood" why he was dropped, despite the 25-year-old impressing enough to be talked about once more in England terms having been touted for a call-up in August before injury struck.

Speaking about the prospect of Stockdale being called up for next week's friendly with Denmark, Hughes said: "If it happens this time, given the level of his performances, I think it would be deserved."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas