Hodgson rubbishes Hangeland Arsenal link

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The Independent Online

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has denied there has been interest in defender Brede Hangeland from Arsenal.

Hangeland, who signed from FC Copenhagen in January, has been in imperious form for the Cottagers this season, marshalling a lean defence that has frustrated Aston Villa and Liverpool in the last two Barclays Premier League games.

Speculation this week suggested the Gunners are keen on the 27-year-old Norway captain, but Hodgson insists there is no truth in the rumours.

However, he admitted, if an offer was made, it would have to be considered, adding it might be naive to think Hangeland would reject a lucrative move to stay at the club.

"We have had absolutely no indication that Arsenal or any other club of that stature have had any interest in Brede Hangeland," said Hodgson.

"I sometimes wonder if these stories are educated guesses from people looking and seeing that William Gallas has had a fall-out with the other players, thinking Arsenal will want to get another centre-half, looking at what centre-halves are available and linking them with Arsenal Football Club.

"If a serious offer comes our way for Brede, I'm pretty sure it'll have to be considered but I would hope - and this might be a naive hope - that we could still keep him because he's got a long-term contract with us here.

"I know he's happy with us here and I know he's happy with his football. And it'd be nice to think that we could keep him with us.

"But, in the meantime, it's not something that affects our thinking in any way and hopefully it hasn't affected his either because I don't know what he reads into that type of speculation."

Unbeaten in four, Fulham face another stern test of their mettle at home to Manchester City in the lunchtime kick-off tomorrow.

Hodgson's men will be hoping to continue their impressive record at Craven Cottage where they have won five of their seven home games this term, but City and their Brazilian contingent will be looking to halt a mediocre run that has left them uncomfortably close to the relegation zone.

Hodgson believes another strong defensive display is crucial, but also wants to see his side scoring more goals.

"Manchester City have so much attacking talent at their disposal," he said.

"Even last year they were bringing in people like (Martin) Petrov, Elano and Benjani (Mwaruwari) and have added (Shaun) Wright-Phillips, Robinho and Jo.

"When you look at that attacking talent, which has been assembled for a lot of money, it doesn't surprise me that they have scored a lot of goals.

"We will have to tame that attacking prowess and do better in making and converting chances.

"We haven't been pulling everyone back but we certainly haven't been scoring as many goals as I would like."

The Englishman refused to be critical of City's desire for instant success following their summer takeover by the wealthy Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited, but warned buying the world's most expensive players does not guarantee results.

"The beauty of football is, and always will be, that money doesn't guarantee you succeed. You have still got to spend the money on the right players and who knows what the right players are," he added.

"It is quite easy to write down 10 names of top players in Europe but whether they are right for your club at this particular moment and can come in and acclimatise are factors we cannot know.

"Winning is great and losing is awful so whatever could guarantee us winning every week I'd be delighted with."

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