Fulham pair still out for trip to Spurs

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The Independent Online

Fulham's hopes of welcoming back either Brian McBride or midfielder Jimmy Bullard, recovering from a long-term leg injury, in time for today's away game at Spurs, have proved unfounded.

In the aftermath of Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Wigan, Ray Lewington caretaker manager following last week's dismissal of Lawrie Sanchez ruled out either player returning for what will be a crucial derby as Fulham seek to move away from the Premier League relegation zone.

"They are not far off, but it's too soon for them to play at the moment," Lewington said. There are doubts, too, over the fitness of the full-back Elliot Omozusi, who limped off on Saturday.

Fulham could have used the enterprise and edge of Bullard in midfield, as well as the finishing power of McBride up front, as they take on a Spurs team who will be eager to get back into winning ways after Saturday's defeat by Arsenal.

"Spurs are a quality side, but we are going to get an away result soon," Lewington said. "And if we show the spirit that we did against Wigan, and sort out one or two things from a technical point of view, then who knows?"

Lewington has spoken to his players about the importance of trying to put the turbulence at the club to the back of their minds. "I told them that whatever they felt about the manager they had to let it go because we have to move on," he said.

"The most important thing that had to happen on Saturday was that the players would not feel sorry for themselves, and I was very happy with their response. You couldn't fault the spirit."

Asked what he thought he could bring to the job of managing Fulham full-time a post for which former Craven Cottage midfielder John Collins has been strongly tipped following his recent departure from Hibernian Lewington responded: "I've got a fair amount of experience, and I've coached at all levels. I think I know the game, I think I'm a good coach."

If Lewington has received no guarantees from his chairman, Mohamed al-Fayed, he has earned a vote of confidence from at least one of his players in Clint Dempsey, whose goal 13 minutes from time saved a point for Fulham on Saturday.

The American hinted that he was happier with the more traditional passing game employed by Lewington in the wake of a long-ball style that yielded just two wins in 17 games under Sanchez's charge.

"I'm happy with the manager we have right now," Dempsey said. "I like Ray and Billy [McKinley, his assistant]. They give us more freedom to express ourselves as players.

"I can't speak for the team, but I think the fans showed they agreed by the way they got behind us."

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