Leaky Fulham pin survival hopes on Brede Hangeland’s return

 

When Brede Hangeland joined Fulham six years ago this month the deal’s timing meant he had to watch from the stand while his new club lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal. After Emmanuel Adebayor scored the second of two barely challenged headers he received a text from a Fulham employee: “That’s why we need u” it read.

This season Fulham have conceded 42 goals, more than any team in the Premier League, including nine at corners. Hangeland has missed three months with a sciatic nerve problem. These facts are related.

Fulham hope their Norwegian giant will return today when Sunderland visit Craven Cottage, too late to save Martin Jol, but a boost for his replacement Rene Meulensteen. With goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg also in line for a comeback, and Clint Dempsey making his second home debut after returning on loan from Seattle Sounders, there is renewed belief by  the Thames.

However, after taking three points at Everton and beating Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, Sunderland also have fresh confidence. They won at Fulham last season and a repeat could lift them off the bottom.

Gus Poyet’s main decision centres on whether to change players involved on Tuesday when Fulham were resting, or hope the buzz of that victory overcomes any fatigue.

Sunderland are yet to beat a fellow struggler and Poyet said: “People say we are going to do well in the second half of the season because we are playing so many teams at home who are in the bottom half. But we haven’t beaten one yet and it is vital that we start doing that. That’s why the Fulham game is such a massive game for us.”

A Sunderland win would bring them within two points of Fulham. Poyet, who arrived on Wearside with the club adrift after taking one point from seven games following Paolo Di Canio’s disastrous reign (which included a home defeat by Fulham), added: “This game is one which can change our season and I’m looking forward to it.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor