Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, yesterday said Arsène Wenger was too honourable to resort to underhand tactics in any pursuit of the young centre-half Chris Smalling. Hodgson stated that Fulham have received no offers for the highly rated England Under-21 international, despite speculation that Arsenal are ready to pay £7m for the 20-year-old, who was signed from non-league Maidstone in 2008.
Hodgson said: "If Arsenal are interested, then I guess they had better get in touch with us. I have not spoken to Arsène at all. It has never been mentioned, and our chief executive has not spoken to their chief executive, so presumably that means they have got no interest, or the interest is being generated by someone else in the club or outside the club."
Hodgson said he believes Wenger to be a man of his word, and has been assured by the Arsenal manager that he will contact him if he is interested in a player. Hodgson said: "Arsène made it clear to me with Brede Hangeland, he said, 'If I had been interested in signing Brede Hangeland, the first person I would have contacted would have been you.' I believe that, and fully expect when he wants to sign a Fulham player, I will be the first one to hear."
Fulham have been in talks over a possible loan move for the Stoke striker James Beattie, who has fallen out with his manager, Tony Pulis. Hodgson refused to comment on the speculation but admitted that striker Bobby Zamora is making a swift return to fitness after a shoulder injury, which could make a move for Beattie unnecessary. However, if Zamora moves to West Ham, which is a distinct possibility, then Hodgson might be tempted towards Beattie as a replacement.
"Beattie is just one of those names that you get associated with," Hodgson said. "I am not really in a position to say anything about our transfer targets, or the players we are being associated with, because there are so many."