Hodgson willing to risk points deduction over Pantsil

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The Independent Football

Fulham could be deducted points if manager Roy Hodgson fulfils his promise to play John Pantsil in the Cottagers' Barclays Premier League clash with Chelsea later this month.

Pantsil is due to join up with his Ghana team-mates on December 27 for the Black Stars' pre-African Nations Cup training camp in South Africa.

FIFA rules state that clubs must release their players 14 days before the start of any recognised international tournament, which obliges Fulham to release the defender on December 27 - one day before their match with Chelsea.

Should Pantsil play against Chelsea, the Football Association of Ghana can request that any points the Cottagers pick up against Carlo Ancelotti's side be forfeited.

Hodgson is adamant, however, that the 28-year-old will play in the west London derby.

"I expect Pantsil to be playing for us on the 28th and he will unless FIFA intervene and insist he goes," the Fulham boss said.

"It's a bit disrespectful of the African nations to write to the English clubs asking their players to be released on the 27th of December.

"They know that we all have matches on the 28th.

"It's probably just a little bit of oversight on their part and I don't expect for one minute for Ghana to insist that John Pantsil meets up with them on 27th, the day before we play Chelsea, or Michael Essien leave for the same fixture."

The Ghana FA were unavailable for comment on the matter.

Hodgson's short-term focus, meanwhile, is on tomorrow's Barclays Premier League match with Burnley.

With strikers Andrew Johnson (groin) and Diomansy Kamara (knee) sidelined, Bobby Zamora is expected to lead the line at Turf Moor.

Zamora has been criticised by sections of the Craven Cottage crowd this season and celebrated last week's winner against Sunderland by pressing his index finger against his lips in a silencing gesture.

The 28-year-old, who was linked with a move away from the club this summer, even pushed away two of his players to ensure that fans at the Hammersmith End of the ground saw his protest.

Hodgson criticised the former Tottenham striker for the celebration but maintains he is still a key part of his squad.

"If you ask me do I think it was a sensible celebration, then no, I don't think it was," Hodgson said.

"I have no idea what he was thinking. I wouldn't even dream of trying to explain his celebration.

"I think he has played well for a long period of time since he came to the club and has played almost every game."