Mark Hughes targets top-half finish for Fulham

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has backed his players to achieve a top-10 finish in the Barclays Premier League this season.

Clint Dempsey's majestic performance gave the Cottagers a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Bolton last night and helped the midfielder into the club's record books.

The United States international's brace saw him break Fulham's club record for most Premier League goals by a single player, before Brede Hangeland wrapped up the result with a stooping header.

The victory extended Fulham's unbeaten run at Craven Cottage to seven matches, during which time they have won 19 points out of a possible 21.

Hughes' side last tasted defeat at the hands of London rivals West Ham on Boxing Day, which left them facing a potential relegation battle.

However, Wednesday's victory has pushed them to ninth in the table, all-but securing Premier League survival in the process.

"You will have heard me saying time and time again during the year that I felt we are a top 10 side," Hughes said.

"We are in the top 10 now, I think it is only the second occasion this year that we have been in the top 10 and now it is up to us to make sure we remain there until the end of the season because that is where I feel we should be.

"I think we proved that again here, we have got good quality, we play the right way and I think we deserve to be in the top 10."

The victory leaves Fulham four points behind eighth-placed Bolton, who have endured a tumultuous recent run.

Having been battered 5-0 by Stoke in the FA Cup semi-finals earlier this month, they redeemed themselves with a 2-1 victory over title-chasing Arsenal on Sunday.

Owen Coyle's side capitulated once more last night however, leading the Trotters boss to urge his side to prove their worth.

"We came here in the cup and won so we wanted to try and win again to take us to seventh in the league and we've not done that," he said.

"I thought we started really well and had a terrific chance in the first minute to take the lead.

"We probably should have scored but we didn't, and then Fulham came into the game because they have terrific individual players and have a very good team.

"My disappointment is the goals we have lost. They are soft from our point of view and I think all three goals came indirectly from set plays.

"That is always a disappointment but having said that it can happen in this league because of the margins in the Barclays Premier League and their quality.

"I can't argue with the result, I think Fulham are fully deserving of the three points. But I know we are certainly better than we showed tonight."

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