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Stakes high as Fulham face relegation rivals Norwich

Updated 11 Apr 2014 00:16:55

Stakes high as Fulham face relegation rivals Norwich

The stakes are sky-high at Craven Cottage on Saturday when Fulham host Norwich in a game that is sure to have a major bearing on who is eventually relegated from the Premier League.

Fulham are currently unwanted holders of the third and final relegation place, but a victory over fourth bottom Norwich would bring them to within two points of their opponents, who appear to have the toughest final four games of any of the clubs currently in fear of the drop.

Norwich must play Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal after their Fulham assignment, and their anxiety was apparent following last week's home loss to West Bromwich Albion when they sacked manager Chris Hughton.

Youth coach Neil Adams was drafted as interim boss for the rest of the campaign and Felix Magath, who is the third manager Fulham have tried this season following the dismissals of Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen, admitted he was wary of a backlash from the visitors.

"They have changed manager now and that will give them new energy, so we have to be careful," Magath said.

"They will fight for 90 minutes. You can never say what's happened in another club, but they took a manager who knows everything in the club, so it was for them a chance to change something and it was a decision, maybe, that will be good for them. But maybe it was a little bit too late."

Fulham will at least go into the game with added confidence having recorded a rare away win last weekend, a 2-1 success at Aston Villa.

"We needed a win last week and fortunately we got it. It helps a lot," Magath added.

Midfielder Scott Parker is fit again and Darren Bent is also available after missing last week's game because he is on loan from Villa.

Kostas Mitroglou, the £12 million January signing from Olympiakos who has played just two games, is not yet ready however.

For their part, Norwich know that victory will open up a sizeable points cushion, although they have not beaten Fulham in any competition since 1986 and have already had three attempts this season, including two in the FA Cup.

"It's gone very well, really pleased with how things have gone," Adams said of his first few days in charge.

"The players' attitudes have been fantastic. They're really buying into what we're trying to get out there and what we're trying to do with the team."

Adams may be able to bring midfielder Leroy Fer back into the squad, with the Dutchman having been missing since March with a hamstring problem.

The fitness of centre-backs Joseph Yobo and Ryan Bennett is also being monitored.


AFP

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