Mark Hughes may offer Mark Schwarzer Fulham coaching role

Mark Hughes will consider handing Mark Schwarzer a coaching role at Fulham after the goalkeeper finally ended speculation about his future by signing a new two-year contract.

Schwarzer yesterday gave up on his dream of joining Arsenal in the January transfer window, choosing instead to be part of Hughes' Craven Cottage revolution.

The 38-year-old, whose previous deal expired at the end of the season, had reportedly been offered a player-coach role by the Gunners, who saw more than one bid rejected for the Australia star in the summer.

Hughes would also be willing to give Schwarzer his big break in coaching, saying: "If that's something he wants to pursue in the future, I would certainly be receptive to enabling him to possibly start his coaching career and see how it develops.

"That would be an option for him, I'm sure."

Schwarzer looked certain to leave after expressing a desire to join Arsenal, and his u-turn speaks volumes for new manager Hughes' powers of persuasion.

Revealing the nature of their talks, Hughes said: "I just sat him down and said, for myself and for Fulham to be successful, I need Mark Schwarzer here.

"That's basically it, in black and white terms.

"He's an outstanding keeper and has been for many, many years.

"He understands the Premier League, he understands what it's all about and we're a better team when Mark Schwarzer's playing.

"It was very easy from my point of view to construct an argument because it's there for everybody to see."

Schwarzer himself told his club's official website, www.fulhamfc.com: "Since I joined the club in 2008, we have enjoyed a great deal of success and I believe Mark Hughes and the team will build on this success over the forthcoming seasons and continue the club's progress."

Schwarzer will be almost 40 when his new deal expires - although there is an option for a one-year extension - and Hughes feels he could see out his career at Fulham.

"He's a very fit guy and we would like to think he would," he said.

"Obviously, we've given him a decent length in terms of his contract and he could go on for many more years, even further than he's going to be contracted for.

"So that's credit to him and that's why he's a good professional - he's looked after himself and, if you do that in football terms, then you can be rewarded into your thirties and forties as a keeper."

Conspiracy theorists will point to the fact Schwarzer's deal was agreed 48 hours before tomorrow's Barclays Premier League game against the club that courted him.

Hughes laughed off suggestions that was a factor, saying: "As if.

"We're not as clever as that. But it's a nice coincidence, put it that way."

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