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Hamburg v Fulham - LIVE

22 Apr 2010 19:43:47

Hamburg v Fulham - LIVE

Hamburg v Fulham

Follow every kick as Hamburg take on Fulham at HSH Nordbank Arena in the Europa League
on 22-Apr-2010, kick off time 20:50

Hamburg v Fulham LIVE

Match Preview

Fulham have been handed a boost ahead of the Europa League semi-final clash with Hamburg by the return of Clint Dempsey from a thigh injury.

Manager Roy Hodgson has a full squad to choose from after all his players came through their 17-hour coach journey to the German city unscathed.

Long-term absentee Andrew Johnson (knee) remains the only player to miss out through injury while John Pantsil, Stefano Okaka and Nicky Shorey are all ineligible.

Mark Schwarzer admits Fulham will find it hard win after completing a 27-hour journey to the German city.

The Cottagers arrived in Hamburg at 4pm on Wednesdayafter an arduous coach trip which began at their training ground in Surrey yeson Tuesday.

After abandoning their planned flight aboard a private jet due to the volcanic ash cloud, the squad crossed the channel aboard two luxury coaches on the Euro tunnel before driving to the German city of Munster.

They were then left at a standstill for three hours as they attempted to drive to Hamburg thanks to a lorry crash on the motorway they were travelling on.

The squad finally arrived at their hotel before heading to take part in a training session at the Hamburg Arena, where they will begin their bid to make their first European final.

The squad took breaks throughout their trip in a bid to keep fit ahead of the game, which is arguably the biggest in their 141-year history.

Schwarzer says spending 17 hours on the road has brought the team closer together, but admits the long journey has left the team facing an struggle.

"We're fighting an uphill battle, really, with the trip that we've made so it's going to be really tough for us, but we'll try and do what we can," said Schwarzer, who made the UEFA Cup final with Middlesbrough in 2006.

"Hamburg are expected to get to the final now. They are the favourites to get through, even more so with the circumstances that have come about.

"The atmosphere on the journey has been very good though. We have a very good relationship anyway in the team.

"A really long trip can either pull the team part or to the contrary and I'd say it's pulled us all together."

Hamburg defender Dennis Aogo hopes to erase the disappointment of last year's UEFA Cup semi-final exit by winning the Europa League on home soil next month.

The Bundesliga side take on Fulham almost a year after being knocked out of the UEFA Cup by bitter Bundesliga rivals Werder Bremen.

This season Hamburg have beaten the likes of Celtic, Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven to make the last four of the revamped competition and are favourites to reach the final at the Hamburg Arena on May 12.

A win over Roy Hodgson's side would guarantee Bruno Labbadia's team a mouth-watering clash against Liverpool or Atletico Madrid.

Aogo has been key to the team's success this year and hopes a win over the Cottagers will ease the pain which he has and his team-mates have had to endure for the last 12 months.

"We all remember the semi-final last year and it hurt," the 23-year-old said.

"Those of us who were there want to put that right now and what better motivation can we have than playing in our home stadium?

"That is the real drive that drives us on."


DSG

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