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."

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Life and Style
tech

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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker