Hodgson backs Murphy to continue at top level

Roy Hodgson sees no reason why Danny Murphy cannot continue to play at the top level for many seasons - but warned against expecting the Fulham captain to "hit the ground running" on his return to action from a knee injury against CSKA Sofia tonight.

The 32-year-old former Liverpool midfielder is set to feature for the first time since mid-October as the Cottagers look to keep alive hopes of qualifying from the Europa League group stages.

Murphy, capped nine times by England, has enjoyed a new lease of life since moving across London from Tottenham two years ago.

Hodgson declared: "He has been excellent in every respect.

"Danny has been a very good captain, as well as a great playmaker, his passing is good and he helps the game flow.

"Even during these two years he has certainly got better."

The Fulham manager added: "I can see him going on for a good few more years. It is just a question of how he can keep himself away from injury.

"His fitness levels will remain constant for the next few years: the worry is what effect injuries have.

"But if, touch wood, he stays clear of that he can play for a long time."

Murphy's return is a welcome boost for the Cottagers, who have Erik Nevland, Paul Konchesky and Jonathan Greening all suspended, while the likes of Eddie Johnson, Seol Ki-Hyeon and Kagisho Dikgacoi are not eligible.

Hodgson, though, accepted it would be wrong to expect an immediate impact against the Bulgarians tonight.

"The first thing Danny has to do is to get back to match fitness," said the Fulham manager.

"He won't come straight back and hit the ground running, he needs the match practice.

"Whether he plays on Sunday depends on how he does against Sofia - I have other options for the Sunderland game, which I can't use on Thursday.

"But Danny is looking forward to it. He is mechanically fit and wants to get back in the saddle."

Fulham are currently third in Group E, with five points from four matches.

However, victory tonight and then again away to Basle could still see them reach the last 32.

"I have got to be fairly happy with being mid-table in the Premier League and still being in with a shout of getting through in Europe," said Hodgson.

"We have given some good performances in Europe.

"Some of the fringe players have grown in stature and are knocking on the door of the first team."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003