Coleman back for date with champions after illness

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The Independent Football

Chris Coleman hopes to be back in control against Manchester United this weekend, after being ordered to stay away from his Fulham players before their FA Cup replay win over West Ham United, for fear they might catch an infection which has laid him low.

The Fulham manager went down with the mystery ailment on Tuesday morning and was bed-ridden while his side secured a quarter-final against United with a 3-0 victory at Upton Park on Tuesday night.

But his assistant manager Steve Kean expects Coleman to be back in time for the first of two successive games with United when the Premiership champions visit Loftus Road for a League meeting this weekend.

Kean said: "I spoke to his wife, and Chris woke up in the morning feeling very ill.

"We got the club doctor out to him, and the recommendation was that for the next 48 hours he was better in his bed than near the players with an infection.

"The boys thought he was coming to the game, so there were a few shocked faces when I told them. The information from the doctor is that providing everything goes OK I would imagine he would be back in time for the United game.

"He needs total rest, but the most important thing was for him to stay away from the players because we were worried about a virus spreading all the way through the team."

Coleman had already picked the team and decided the tactics for the fifth-round replay in east London. But his side struggled against West Ham in the first half. For all their dominance, West Ham could not find a way past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, and they were made to regret their missed opportunities.

Fulham did not find a breakthrough until the 75th minute when the American international Brian McBride struck with a left-foot shot. Further goals from substitute Barry Hayles and Luis Boa Morte completed Fulham's first win in five attempts.

"We said this is going to be the turning point if we get through to the next round," said Kean.

"It sets us up nicely with a bit of confidence. This could give us a little spark to go into these two massive games, and it's a happy dressing room now."

Louis Saha returns to take on his former team-mates for the first time since his controversial £12.8m transfer to United last month. But Kean insists Fulham are over their post-Saha blip and go into both matches against United with confidence now that goals are coming from other areas.

He said: "The way we'd set the team up was to provide chances for Louis Saha to score goals. It's taken Brian McBride a while to settle in. But now Louis has gone we still think we can provide chances for Brian.

"I think you saw him grow in confidence after that goal. We think we can score from a number of positions."

Fulham will head for Old Trafford on 6 March in good spirits after winning there convincingly in October. Kean said: "I don't think there are too many teams who have done the double over them, so this result will give us confidence."

The West Ham manager Alan Pardew was disappointed to lose but stressed the fact that his squad was stretched with six players cup-tied. They also lost their captain Christian Dailly, who needed nine stitches to a head wound during the game.

"We ran out of bodies and we got ragged at the end. It put a sour taste on the match," Pardew said. "It hasn't been an easy managerial situation with so much chopping and changing, but if we'd scored the first goal we might have won the tie.

"We had a few players sitting in the stand. We will need all our squad if we are to win anything this year."

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