Coleman in search for experienced defender - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Coleman in search for experienced defender

An experienced defender is the focus of Chris Coleman's January recruitment drive as the Fulham manager attempts to steer his side away from the Premiership relegation zone.

An experienced defender is the focus of Chris Coleman's January recruitment drive as the Fulham manager attempts to steer his side away from the Premiership relegation zone.

Last season the Cottagers shot into European reckoning largely thanks to their defensive solidity, but this campaign has been undermined by uncertainty at the back and they have conceded more goals at home than any other club.

They have had few problems finding the back of the net - especially with summer signing Andy Cole proving he has lost none of his predatory instincts - and a fully fit squad would offer a host of attacking options. But Coleman knows his rookie defence needs urgent attention if the club - who sit five points above the relegation places - are to avoid being sucked into the drop zone.

"We're a threat going forward. If you look at players like Andy Cole, Luis Boa Morte, Steed Malbranque, Tomasz Radzinski, Collins John, Brian McBride, then we're fine in that department," he said. "But where we've struggled is in giving goals away. Look at the defence - we've been playing lads like Zesh Rehman, Zat Knight and Moritz Volz. They are all in their early 20s and there's not a lot of experience there.

"It's not just them - the whole team has to defend. But we've been without Alain Goma for most of the season, Iain Pearce has been in and out with injury, while Jérôme Bonnissel has been out long-term.

"It's left us without that little bit of experience that can take the pressure off at times. If we can I'll be looking to bring in another defender this month."

Fulham's survival took a step in the right direction with the 3-1 New Year's Day triumph over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace in an entertaining London derby. The result halted a three-match Premiership losing run and handed the Cottagers some breathing space, although much of that was eroded when Blackburn and Palace registered victories on Monday night.

Next up for Coleman's side is Wednesday's game against Southampton at St Mary's and the encounter represents the second leg of a crucial three-match Premiership phase which concludes against West Bromwich Albion on 16 January.

Fulham have targeted maximum points from the games and second-from-bottom Saints - who can no longer call on James Beattie after the striker agreed to join Everton - should be overcome by a similar performance to that of Saturday.

The return of Luis Boa Morte against Palace provided the side with a creativity up front that has been lacking in recent weeks. Coleman believes his season's plans have been badly affected by injuries.

"We've had to chop and change the team and the formations around. Sometimes we've been trying to play square pegs in round holes because of the position we've been in," he said. "I still think that with the players we had available we should have done better. But we've missed people like Claus Jensen - he's a very good player but unfortunately we haven't seen much of him through injury."

The Fulham captain, Lee Clark, is in line for his first start of the season at St Mary's. The midfielder came off the bench during the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday for his first senior appearance since sustaining a calf injury in May. No fresh injuries were picked up against Palace, but the midfielder Sylvain Legwinski is still a doubt with flu.

The Palace centre-back Darren Powell believes Andrew Johnson gives his side the edge over this season's other relegation candidates. Johnson scored twice against Aston Villa Monday to lift Palace out of the bottom three - and the Palace manager, Iain Dowie, said that he was determined to keep the striker at the club.

Without Johnson's goals Dowie's side could be bottom - the 23-year-old's strikes have contributed eight points this season - and Powell accepts the former Birmingham striker is vital to their survival quest.

"You've just got to look at the League and the goalscoring charts," Powell said. "Teams like Norwich and West Brom have not got that, not many teams have got a player scoring as freely as A J.

"So if we keep clean sheets and he keeps scoring then we'll win games and stay up this season."

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week