Fulham confirm interest in Espanyol striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo

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The Independent Online

Fulham boss Mark Hughes today confirmed he had been on a scouting mission to watch Espanyol this week after being strongly linked with a move for striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.

Hughes jetted out to Barcelona to take in Espanyol's Primera Division win over Athletic Bilbao, in which the highly-rated Osvaldo scored.

Hughes was reportedly joined at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat by Manchester United's chief European scout - Sir Alex Ferguson's brother Martin - Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and Everton's David Moyes.

Osvaldo, 25, has also been valued by some at £12million, making Fulham very much underdogs for his signature should a bidding war ensue.

"We're looking at what's available," said Hughes.

"We're looking at a view to next year and if we can add quality to the quality we already have then we'll try to do that.

"But it is price-sensitive, I would suggest, and sometimes you can want to bring a good player in but financially you haven't got the means to do that.

"So we're just making sure that we're out there and we understand what's in the market place."

Hughes has also been linked with the more affordable Young Boys forward Henri Bienvenu Ntsama and Swansea star Scott Sinclair as he looks to bolster his attack this summer.

The loss of Bobby Zamora to a broken leg in September hit the club hard and the Fulham boss appears eager to avoid a repeat next season.

He announced another injury blow today, revealing winger Damien Duff had finally been forced to concede defeat in his bid to overcome a long-standing Achilles problem.

"Damien Duff has had an operation on his Achilles," Hughes said.

"The view is that he'll be probably a six-week recovery and then he'll be fit and well for next season."

That would rule Duff out of the Republic of Ireland's Carling Nations Cup fixtures against Northern Ireland and Scotland later this month, and the June European Championship qualifier against Macedonia.

The 33-year-old had been named yesterday in Giovanni Trapattoni's provisional 33-man squad.

Hughes added: "We've been managing it through the season in fairness and Damien's been doing really well with it.

"But it just got to the point where one course of treatment was compromising another course of treatment that we had to do to allow the injury to settle down in between games.

"In the end, we made a decision that the best route was to get it sorted now.

"He actually had the operation done by the guy that did Bobby Zamora's last year, so we have every confidence that it's pretty straightforward and he'll be back in the timeframe."

Hughes reported better news regarding top scorer - and Fulham's new record Premier League scorer - Clint Dempsey, who missed Saturday's 3-0 win at Sunderland.

"Clint's trained after the weekend," said the Cottagers boss, whose side host Liverpool on Monday night.

"He was a bit stiff in his hamstrings on the Friday prior to the Sunderland game, so there was no point in risking him.

"I took the view to leave him behind and he's benefited from that and he should be okay.

"He's trained today and he'll train right up to the game so he should be an option for us."

Brede Hangeland will also be available again after missing last weekend's game through illness, but Zoltan Gera and Rafik Halliche remain sidelined.

Hughes also revealed he was "very close" to wrapping up a permanent deal for Eidur Gudjohnsen, who joined Fulham on loan from Stoke in January and whose promotion to the starting line-up has yielded seven points from the last three games.

The 32-year-old former Chelsea and Barcelona striker would be available on a free transfer as his Potters contract expires this summer.

Hughes added: "We're trying to make that happen.

"I've been really pleased with what Eidur's brought to us and I know that he's enjoying his time here.

"Eidur would like to stay, I'm sure, and we would reciprocate that as well.

"We're hopeful it'll get done quite soon."

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