Hughes ready to renew his interest in Santa Cruz

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Fulham manager Mark Hughes looks set to renew his interest in Roque Santa Cruz when the January transfer window opens.

Hughes failed in an attempt to sign Santa Cruz on loan during the summer but is weighing up a second approach for the unsettled Manchester City striker.

Hughes worked with Santa Cruz at Eastlands and Blackburn, and the Paraguay international has been told he can leave City. "I'm interested in players of the quality of Roque," Hughes said yesterday. "My interest in him before was there for everybody to see.

"Whether we pursue that in January is open to debate. I'm not aware that he's available. That might change. But I don't like discussing players by name before we've actually signed him. This time in the transfer window we want to target players quite early so that we are ready to flick the switch when the window opens."

Hughes is unconcerned by Fulham's slide down the Premier League as they seek to avoid a third successive defeat against Wigan today. They lie in 16th place, level on points with Liverpool who sit in the relegation zone, and are in danger of squandering their promising start to the season.

"We struggled against West Brom last weekend because of the injuries but prior to that we were unbeaten until two games ago,"Hughes said.

"We acquitted ourselves very well in the Tottenham game. I was unhappy with a couple of decisions that went against us. Overall I've been delighted with our performances, if you take the West Brom game out of it. We need to pick up three points and our home form is good, so the expectation is we have a good chance.

"Four out of our next six games are at home and we anticipate we'll pick up points in those games. Irrespective of who the opposition is, we'll give them a good game at home.

"Away from home our form isn't great and we're trying to change that. What kind of season we have will depend on our form on the road."

Andy Johnson will continue his comeback from a combination of shoulder, knee and hip injuries at Craven Cottage, although he is unlikely to start. "Andy's available for selection. He did very well against West Brom but we don't want to rush him. He's not ready for 90 minutes yet."Hughes added.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez yesterday praised Hughes for the job he has done since stepping into Roy Hodgson's shoes. "I think that was probably the hardest job to take in Fulham's history if you look at the achievements Roy Hodgson had domestically and in European competition," Martinez said.

"But they have changed the way they play slightly and they have bought one or two players who have given them a different dimension, and that is full credit to Mark."