Fulham relief at Dembele injury news

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The Independent Football

Fulham's attacking options for tomorrow's clash with Everton have dwindled yet further after it was confirmed Mousa Dembele will be out for two to three weeks.

The update on Dembele was positive given manager Mark Hughes initially feared he may have suffered a serious injury following a tackle from Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson in midweek.

But instead of a broken leg, the £5million summer signing from AZ Alkmaar has sustained minor ankle ligament damage and should return in time to face Tottenham on October 16.

The setback comes a week after Bobby Zamora had been ruled out for five months with a broken leg, while Andy Johnson and Diomansy Kamara are still finding their way back from injury.

"We are short obviously because we have lost Bobby to a long-term injury as well as Mousa," said Hughes.

"Available to us are Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Zoltan Gera, who can play off the front.

"We have options, though ideally we'd like our full compliment of strikers to pick from."

Hughes was furious with Wilkinson's tackle, which he branded "absolutely ridiculous", at the time and his view over the incident has not softened with time.

"The challenge was unnecessary and we're thankful the injury isn't more serious than it is," he said.

"I was extremely angry and made my feelings known.

"It could have been worse, but at the end of the day you can't legislate for a player doing something that could potentially be damaging to a fellow professional.

"It's frustrating when it happens to one of your players, but it's part and parcel of the game - how do you protect your players from being put at risk? It's very difficult to do that.

"It isn't as prevalent as it once was, but there will always be incidents when you are disappointed in the attitude of the opposing team."

Adding to the sense of frustration is that Dembele had made a promising start to life at Craven Cottage, scoring three goals including both strikes in the 2-1 victory over Wolves.

"We've been really pleased with what Dembele's produced and he's been a big reason behind the positive start we've had," said Hughes.

"Not to have him available because of a tackle so late in the game is frustrating for everybody."

Everton are without a win in five Barclays Premier League matches so far this season and the pressure on manager David Moyes is mounting.

"The way Everton have started is surprising and I think it has surprised David Moyes as well," said Hughes.

"David had stated that the group of players he has is probably the strongest during his time at the club.

"That's quite a statement and he's frustrated by what has happened at the beginning of the season. He's probably scratching his head.

"They are a little bit wounded and will look to improve. We have to be ready."