Fulham target top half finish

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The Independent Football

Bjorn Helge Riise insists Fulham's first team hopefuls are determined to contribute to a spectacular season by securing a top 10 finish in the Barclays Premier League.

Craven Cottage is gripped with excitement over the looming Europa League final against Atletico Madrid at the Hamburg Arena next Wednesday.

With his first-choice side set in stone, manager Roy Hodgson will nurse his resources carefully over the two remaining Premiership matches.

Only four of the side that completed the fairytale march to the final by beating Hamburg last week started Sunday's 3-2 victory over West Ham.

Hodgson is likely to give the second string another run out in tomorrow night's clash with Stoke and Riise insists they are ready to answer his call once again.

"We live to play football so there was never any question of us not being up for it against West Ham," he told the club's official website, www.fulhamfc.com.

"For those of us that were on the bench against Hamburg it was a chance to show that we can play football.

"That was important to us and we don't want to lose games, especially in the last weeks of the season and especially when we have a final coming up.

"For us the aim is to get that 10th place and if we beat Stoke we will be close to achieving that."

Fulham sit one point adrift of 10th place Blackburn but have a game in hand on Rovers.

After meeting Stoke at Craven Cottage they end the Premier League campaign at Arsenal, who could yet be pipped to third place by Tottenham.

Riise is hoping to be involved as much as possible as the finishing touches are put to a season that is already the most successful in the club's 131-year history.

"It was nice to play 90 minutes against West Ham and to win," said the Norwegian midfielder.

"A lot of the team haven't played much recently so to beat West Ham 3-2 is a very positive result.

"I enjoyed it a lot and hopefully I'll get to play a bit more in the last three games.

"Now it's important to beat Stoke to secure 10th place. To finish the season at the Emirates will be magnificent.

"I've never been there before but people tell me it's a great stadium so I'm looking forward to that.

"We want to be in that top 10 so that when we look at the table on TV we're there in the top half.

"And to achieve that after the season we've had, and getting to the Europa League final, would be a very good season."

Bobby Zamora continues his battle with an Achilles injury and is unlikely to play any part against Stoke.

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