Hodgson 'worried' about travel chaos

09 May 2010 08:10
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has called on UEFA to postpone the Europa League final if the volcanic ash causes more travel chaos next week.

Fulham are preparing for Wednesday's clash with Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The Cottagers, who fielded a much-changed side for the 4-0 defeat in their last Premier League game at Arsenal, faced an arduous journey to get to Germany for the first leg of their semi-final after European airspace was shutdown following eruptions in Iceland.

The latest burst of ash is now drifting across areas of France, Spain, northern Italy and Germany bringing more disruption as several airports - including Munich - have been closed.

Forecasts suggest the volcanic cloud could disrupt UK airspace again over the next few days.

Fulham are set to fly out on Tuesday morning.

Hodgson maintains if the situation worsens, then Europe's footballing governing body must take a stance.

"We are worried, because they are always talking about changing wind direction, and having to play this game on Sunday does not give us too much alternative," said the Fulham manager.

"It is all very well people saying change the flights, but we can only change that till tomorrow.

"We are talking about 40 people and a lot of kit - it is not like someone going on a package holiday, it is a major operation.

"We are training tomorrow morning, and I am not expecting to race around and try to contact the players now to say 'You had better bring your bags for 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.'

"It could be very problematic and I only hope we have the luck to see the ash cloud disappear from the airspace between England and Germany.

"It is a very, very complicated matter and while our administrative team are working on it as best they can, to some extent we are going to be very much in the hands of the aviation authorities. What we can and can't do will be decided by them, not us."

With the ash closing Spanish airports, Atletico are likely to face similar problems.

Hodgson added: "If Madrid are also in that situation, UEFA should show some transigence, rather than the usual intransigence, and trying to find a solution which helps us both by postponing the game until we both can fly there.

"I do not think it is quite that simple to say 'the game is Wednesday, you have to get there', if Madrid are facing a 20-hour journey and we are facing a 30-hour journey, because I do not think this is what the finals are about - they are a great occasion.

"You would be placing the game with thousands and thousands of English and Spanish fans not able to go, which I would say is another reason for UEFA to reconsider.

"It would be harsh, especially on a team like ours who have had to do it once already."

Hodgson hopes his injury problems will clear up ahead of the Europa League final.

Paul Konchesky (ankle), Brede Hangeland (knee), Aaron Hughes (groin) and Damien Duff (leg) are all expected to train tomorrow.

Striker Bobby Zamora, however, faces a race against time to shake off a niggling Achilles problem.

Defender John Pantsil and Bjorn Helge Riise were both substituted at Emirates Stadium.

Hodgson said: "Pantsil has felt a slight problem in his thigh, but we do not think it is massive.

"It might be a slight muscle strain, but the physios did not seem to be terribly disturbed. We will have to re-asess him tomorrow.

"Riise was suffering from stomach cramps at half-time. That could be worse. He has had to go home, and we hope it is not a viral infection."

Hodgson is keeping his fingers cross Zamora can play some part against Atletico.

"Bobby is also making progress and tomorrow will be quite a crucial day to see if he is fit enough to train, or whether he needs more time," he said.

"Of course, though, the more time he needs, the more difficult it makes my team selection because he has not trained or played since coming off against Hamburg.

"Time is working on his behalf, so if Bobby was lucky enough to be involved for England, then by the time that group get together after the FA Cup final, it would not prevent him from taking part in that."

Source: Team_Talk