Coleman expects tough test

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The Independent Football

Chris Coleman, the Fulham manager, will not entertain talk of Saturday's League match against Chelsea until after this evening's League Cup fourth-round trip to Championship strugglers Nottingham Forest.

Chris Coleman, the Fulham manager, will not entertain talk of Saturday's League match against Chelsea until after this evening's League Cup fourth-round trip to Championship strugglers Nottingham Forest.

Fulham are on a high following Sunday's 4-1 away victory over Newcastle United, but Colemanknows that consistency has not always been his side's strong point.

"We've had a trend where we've got a massive result like that and then fallen off it again and it's a tough game tomorrow," Coleman said. "We're not even talking about the weekend's game against Chelsea who have quality. We're talking about what will be a hard game. Albeit Forest are at the wrong end of the League in the first division, it will still be a hard game for us. Nottingham Forest will not be expected to beat us but it will be tough and we've got to keep the consistency going.

"What we've not got to do is go there and have a poor result. Then we are on the back foot for Chelsea on Saturday and you don't want to be on the back foot against a team like that."

Coleman has no intention of following Arsène Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho by fielding anything less than his strongest available side at the City Ground.

"Arsenal and United, possibly Chelsea, maybe don't play their strongest teams, though their second teams are strong enough, but this is a chance to progress in this competition," Coleman said.

The only absentee from the team that beat Newcastle on Sunday is expected to be the Dutch international striker Collins John, ruled out for two weeks with a thigh strain.

That means that Fulham's former Forest goalkeeper Mark Crossley, hero of the win over Newcastle, will again keep Dutch international Edwin van der Sar out of the side.

"While he plays like that, he is picking himself," Coleman said of Crossley.

Coleman brought in some of his fringe players for the 4-1 second-round win away to Boston United, but now a place in Europe next season is too big a prize to take chances with.

"We played a lesser team against Boston. No disrespect to them but it was early on in the season and we still delivered a team which was capable of getting the result, which we did," Coleman said. "In the last round against Birmingham we fielded our strongest team and I'll do so again."

Coleman needs only to look at last season's finalists, Middlesbrough and Bolton, to see what the League Cup can do for a club outside the big three.

"It's a good opportunity for us to get into Europe through this competition. Look at Middlesbrough, they are playing in Europe now, they are at the right end of the League and are playing with a lot of confidence because they won the League Cup," Coleman said. "You can attract players when you are successful. [Middlesbrough manager] Steve McClaren will be the first to admit that the reason he was able to sign the players he did was because of the success they had and that he was able to offer them European football. It does make it easier when you come to talk to players.

"Bolton got to the final and look at the way they have progressed this season. If we can manage to do well in this competition, particularly if we can get to the final, it does set you up."

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