Fulham wait on Europa League after Zoltan Gera red card

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes hopes Zoltan Gera's red card will not cost Fulham the chance of a place in Europe next season as the Hungarian left Craven Cottage for what could be the last time after being sent off in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

England are set to be handed an additional place in the Europa League qualifiers via UEFA's Fair Play League, which with both Chelsea and Tottenham already in Europe could see Fulham given the opportunity.

However, with the final rankings not calculated until factors from yesterday's season-ending games - such as UEFA delegates reports on attitudes towards referees and crowd behaviour - are taken into consideration as well as on-field disciplinary matters, Fulham face an anxious few days before they will discover if they have stayed ahead of relegated Blackpool to be in contention.

Gera was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge at Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen just minutes after having come on as a substitute.

Hughes, though, remains optimistic Fulham's first such incident of the season will not have a major role to play.

"I am hopeful it won't have too much impact because it's factored over 38 games," said Hughes, who guided the Cottagers safely up the Barclays Premier League table following a difficult start to his Fulham career.

"Eighth is some achievement and European football counts as an outstanding season.

"We need to find out one way or another. We will back in three weeks once we know.

"European football can help when you try to attract players to your club, so there is an intention and will to do well in the competition."

Hungary midfielder Gera, 32, could have played his last game for Fulham as he is out of contract, but Hughes added: "Zolly may feel he will get more opportunities elsewhere, but ideally we would like him to stay.

"We would be very disappointed if his Fulham career ended on that note."

Hughes, though, accepted there would be changes to the playing staff over the summer, with men like Ghana international John Pantsil set to leave.

"We are trying to freshen up the squad and the view is that we can look at other alternatives," said the Fulham boss.

Steve Sidwell had swept Fulham in front on 26 minutes, only for Robin van Persie to quickly equalise with his ninth consecutive away goal.

Bobby Zamora nodded the Cottagers back into the lead just before the hour ahead of Gera's dismissal - but a late goal from Theo Walcott earned Arsenal a point as they finished fourth behind FA Cup winners Manchester City.

Zamora may well be in contention for another England chance in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland in June, but Hughes feels the striker needs more recovery having just returned from injury and going off late on yesterday.

"I don't think he is ready for any games at the end of the season," said Hughes.

"Bobby needs a full pre-season and once Premier League is starting again I would imagine he would be very much in the England manager's mind."