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Premier League

Hodgson plays down Smalling Arsenal rumours

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson maintains there has been no contact from Arsenal over promising defender Chris Smalling - and would expect a phone call from Arsene Wenger if there was any interest.

The 20-year-old - plucked from non-League Maidstone by the Cottagers - has been linked with a £7m move to the Gunners, who last night went top of the Barclays Premier League with victory over Bolton.

However, Hodgson insists the rumours have no foundation.

"If Arsenal are interested, then I guess they better get in touch with us," said the Fulham boss, who takes his side to Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

"I have not spoken to Arsene at all. It has never been mentioned, and our chief executive has not spoken to their chief executive, so presumably that means they have got no interest, or the interest is being generated by someone else in the club or outside the club."

Hodgson continued: "Arsene made it clear to me with Brede Hangeland, he said: 'If I had been interested in signing Brede Hangeland, the first person I would have contacted would have been you'.

"I believe that, and fully expect when he wants to sign a Fulham player, I will be the first one to hear."

Fulham have themselves been the centre of transfer speculation since the window opened.

Out-of-favour Stoke striker James Beattie is said to be on Hodgson's radar, with talk of a loan deal for the former England international.

However, the Fulham manager intends to keep his cards close to his chest over the closing days of the January sales.

"Beattie is just one of those names that you get associated with," Hodgson said.

"I am not really in a position to say anything about our transfer targets, or the players we are being associated with, because there are so many.

"Occasionally there may be someone in there with whom there is some interest, amongst all the ones we have not even thought about, but I do not want to get involved in discussing individual cases.

"[Chief executive] Alistair [Mackintosh] is working along certain lines and with certain targets, but I would rather keep those to myself at the moment, rather than having to admit or deny to every name which is thrown at me because there are so many.

"We seem to be a popular club for linking names with."

Hodgson added: "We have had injuries in certain areas, so it is no surprise when a front player or full-back is available at any time, we are one of the clubs who are going to be linked.

"We are looking to maybe strengthen in those two areas, because we have lost Clint Dempsey and Paul Konchesky for a considerable amount of time.

"But it will be a question of what players are available and whether or not we think in this transfer market it is a good thing to go for it, or to hope the injuries are not too serious and we will get the players back."