Fulham contemplate rebuilding operation as Europa League disappointment hits home

Londoners face summer overhaul as seven key players near the end of their contracts
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The Independent Football

The Fulham team that lost the Europa League final faces being broken up over the summer if the club decide not to renew the contracts of seven of the players who started Wednesday's game against Atletico Madrid.

There is still doubt over the manager Roy Hodgson, who has been tipped as a contender for the Liverpool job should Rafael Benitez leave, but it is his team that faces the most uncertain future. Amid suggestions that chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed could reinvest some of his £1.5bn windfall from the sale of Harrods back into the squad there has not been a decision yet on a handful of major players.

Mark Schwarzer, Chris Baird, Paul Konchesky, Simon Davies, Dickson Etuhu, Danny Murphy, Zoltan Gera and John Pantsil, the latter an unused substitute against Atletico, all have just one year left to run. With an ageing squad there are suggestions that Fulham will attempt to move on a lot of these players this summer for a fee and attempt to recruit younger, cheaper replacements.

They are also losing Erik Nevland, who is set to go back to Norway when his contract runs out at the end of next month. The club have already signed certain players such as Brede Hangeland, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Hughes to longer deals, demonstrating that these are the individuals they are most keen to keep.

There are major decisions now about Fulham's direction after arguably the most successful cup run in their history. Expectations are very high among fans after two successful seasons but the club's revenue streams mean it would be a risk if they were to raise the bar in terms of salary and transfer fees.

The club's wages to turnover ratio, as laid out in their last published financial accounts, was 69.1 per cent which is sustainable but could become dangerous if they spend heavily this summer. It is estimated that Fayed has invested more than £200m in the club since he bought it in 1997 – while theoretically a debt it is unlikely he will ask for that money back. Nevertheless, Fulham will not want to burden themselves with big contracts in the same disastrous fashion as Portsmouth did.

More recently Fulham have been linked with a permanent move for the Aston Villa left-back Nicky Shorey who was on loan earlier in the season but who lost his place to Konchesky when the latter returned from injury. They are also believed to be interested in Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell.

Zamora admitted after Wednesday's final that he will need an operation on his damaged Achilles tendon and it was that reality that persuaded him to tell Fabio Capello that there was no point naming him in the 30-man England squad for the World Cup. Zamora also said that "a new contract would be lovely", although he has two years to run on his existing deal.

"I told Fabio that I was struggling and I knew that had I gone [to South Africa] I wouldn't have done myself or England justice," Zamora said. "The World Cup is a massive tournament. It's not about myself, it's about England. He wished me all the best and hoped that I get fit and would be there next season.You could see I was struggling to play [against Atletico].

"It's one of those things, it's come at a bad time. The last five weeks have been terrible for me. It's been an up and down season because it's been so good on the pitch and to pick up this injury now is a kick in the teeth. But on the whole I'm delighted with the season. I'm going to weigh everything up with the medical team but it looks like I might need a minor operation. The decision will be made over the next day or two."

Cottage contracts

Mark Schwarzer (38)

Veteran Australian goalkeeper has one year left to run on contract.

Chris Baird (28)

Versatile Irishman also has a year remaining.

Aaron Hughes (30)

Centre-back has three years to go.

Brede Hangeland (28)

Much-admired Norwegian also has three years left on his current deal.

Paul Konchesky (28)

Left-back has year left.

John Pantsil (28)

Single year remaining.

Damien Duff (31)

Winger has three years to run on his contract.

Danny Murphy (33)

Much-travelled midfielder has year to go.

Dickson Etuhu (27)

Nigerian has one year left on contract.

Simon Davies (30)

Final goalscorer has a year left on current deal.

Clint Dempsey (27)

American international has three years left on deal.

Zoltan Gera (31)

One year remaining.

Bobby Zamora (29)

In-form striker, linked to Birmingham this week, has two years on his deal.

Andy Johnson (29)

Injury-hit striker has two years left.