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Hughes impressed by Fulham start
Published : 01 Oct 2010 16:38:00
Fulham manager Mark Hughes has given his side the thumbs up as he prepares for his seventh Premier League game in charge. The Cottagers travel to West Ham on Saturday as one of only two teams, along with Manchester United, still unbeaten. Fulham would be much higher than seventh in the table had they not drawn five out of their six games so far, while it is more than a year since their last away league win. Hughes, though, insists he could not have asked for more when he took over from Roy Hodgson in July. He told fulhamfc.com: "I'm very pleased with the start that we have made - we have to be because this is a very competitive league. We go to West Ham unbeaten, and we can take a lot from that. "I think Manchester United are the only other team not to lose a game so far - so we're in very good company in that respect. It's very satisfying. "I have been very impressed with what I have seen so far and this is a great group of players that are working extremely hard for one another. They understand what myself and the coaches want and we're seeing that when they're out on the field. "As a result, it has been a decent start, but we want and need to be consistent throughout the whole season and I can see no reason why we can't continue in the same vein. "We have targets and objectives that we want to hit, and at this moment in time we are on track." Fulham's winless away run stretches back to the first game of last season, when a Bobby Zamora goal secured victory at Portsmouth. And Hughes has made addressing their travel sickness a top priority. "We're trying to turn that around, and it's going to be the key to whether we have a good season or not," he said. "We have to be better on the road and, having had three difficult away fixtures so far, we are pleased to remain unbeaten, so, of course, we view that as progress. "We do need a bit of luck perhaps, and all three points on Saturday would go a long way in addressing the problem. "To be honest, I think we have been very positive away from home and I think that is the way to turn things around - we have to take the initiative and capitalise when we have the momentum. "Obviously we would like to start winning on our travels and give those fans that are travelling an enjoyable experience. It's been a long time coming and it's about time we put that right." Upton Park would appear to present a good chance of breaking that sequence, with West Ham stuck in the bottom three. But Avram Grant's side ended their winless run with victory over Tottenham last Saturday - the culmination of a week that also saw them draw with Stoke and beat Sunderland in the Carling Cup. Hughes said: "In fairness, they have had a really difficult start, so we shouldn't read too much into the position they find themselves in the table. "They're on a good run of form now and will take a lot from that victory against Tottenham. It's a difficult match for us. Upton Park is not an easy place to go so we'll have to be on our toes." Hughes remains short of attacking options, with Moussa Dembele (ankle), Zamora (broken leg) and Andrew Johnson (knee) all out. But there was better news of the latter this week when he took part in a behind-closed-doors friendly more than eight months after his last competitive appearance. Meanwhile, Hughes will be able to call on goalkeeper David Stockdale, who was preferred to Mark Schwarzer for the first four games but then picked up an ankle injury just as he was on the verge of an England call-up. Stockdale said: "I'm a proud Englishman and it was heartbreaking to miss out on that. Now I've got to stay patient, keep working hard and wait for my opportunity at Fulham to come again."