Football

Duo set for Fulham return

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Fulham boss Roy Hodgson must decide whether to bring fit-again pair Andy Johnson and Danny Murphy back into the starting XI for the Barclays Premier League home match against Blackburn.

Striker Johnson (groin) and midfielder Murphy (knee) have both returned to full training after being out for more than a month.

Damien Duff and John Pantsil will be recalled after starting on the bench in the Cottagers' 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on Saturday, but striker Diomansy Kamara (knee) is out for at least a fortnight.

Hodgson has welcomed the return to form of fit-again David Dunn, more than a decade after giving the Blackburn midfielder his break in professional football.

Dunn has been the catalyst behind Rovers' recent revival which has seen them climb above Fulham into 11th place.

Hodgson knows all about the 29-year-old having handed the player his top-flight debut in September 1998 when he was manager of Blackburn.

Since then, Dunn has impressed in fits and starts, with a series of niggling injuries hampering his development and restricting him to just one England cap, in 2002.

Hodgson remains a big fan of Dunn and is delighted to see him back to something approaching his best form.

"He's a player who, during his best years, got blighted with some quite serious injuries that kept him out for months and months at a time," Hodgson said.

"He's been unlucky with injuries and it's obvious that's had an effect.

"But his strength is, despite all that, he's back now and to see him back and doing well is great.

"I gave him his debut. He was a very good player as an 18-year when he came into the team in 1998. He is obviously a very gifted player."

Gael Givet is Blackburn's only injury doubt.

The French defender could miss out after suffering a dead leg, but otherwise Rovers have a fully-fit squad.

One definite absentee, however, will be manager Sam Allardyce, who is preparing to undergo surgery on Friday and will sit out the match as he did for the team's 2-0 win at Bolton on Sunday.

Assistant manager Neil McDonald will once again take Allardyce's place in the dugout.

Blackburn hope to have Allardyce back at work on Monday, McDonald has confirmed.

Tests have revealed that the 55-year-old, who has complained of chest pains in recent weeks, requires an angioplasty, a procedure which involves inserting a stent to widen a narrowed coronary artery.

"The procedure is on Friday and they are saying if everything goes according to plan then (he will be back) in the next couple of days," McDonald said.

"We are hoping he will be back for the Monday before the Chelsea game.

"He is a strong man. He does everything as he has to and if this week goes according to plan with another result against Fulham, it will take all the stress out and he will come back quickly.

"When you are talking about the heart and an operation it's always a concern but I think he has been reassured that it is routine."

McDonald has been in close contact with Allardyce and said the win over Bolton - Blackburn's first away league victory this season - had lifted his spirits.

"I'm in touch with him on a regular basis and he's very happy with Sunday's performance and result, and I'm sure he'll be looking for exactly the same on Wednesday," said McDonald.

"I could tell in his voice that he was happy. He didn't watch the game from the start but he did afterwards and he really enjoyed it.

"He thought it was a little bit scrappy in the first half, but he thought we played well second half and thoroughly deserved the victory. That put a big smile on his face because it was against his ex-team."

McDonald insists Allardyce was never in any danger of underestimating the levels of stress in his job.

"In pre-season he was in London getting himself checked out," McDonald added. "He is a person who knows about the stress, he has been in the job for a long time.

"He knows what the stresses and strains are and he looks after his body accordingly.

"That is why he has picked up on what has happened now, and done so early. If he didn't look after himself, the consequences might have been worse."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
John Pantsil
Fulham
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Chelsea
Premier League
Diomansy Kamara
Gael Givet
David Dunn
Damien Duff
Birmingham
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