Damien Duff heads back to the north-east to face Sunderland on Sunday having put his Newcastle nightmare firmly behind him.

The Republic of Ireland winger endured a tough spell at St James' Park, with an injury-hit three years culminating in last season's relegation when his final-day own-goal against Aston Villa sealed the Toon's fate.

But Fulham manager Roy Hodgson rescued Duff at the start of the new campaign and the former Blackburn man said: "I had a difficult few years up in the north-east but I'm just happy to be back playing and thankful to be playing good football with a good team and a good manager, and long may it continue."

He added: "It's always going to be hard going up there but we'll keep working hard and see what comes."

Under Hodgson, Fulham are enjoying unprecedented success with Thursday night's epic 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk earning them a Europa League last-16 tie against Italian giants Juventus.

The Cottagers also have an FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham to look forward to, while they have recovered from a recent four-game losing streak to once again sit comfortably in the top half of the Barclays Premier League.

And Duff is full of praise for the job Hodgson has done since taking over at Craven Cottage just over two years ago.

"It's not so long ago, January, that we had an horrendous month and people were writing us off so it's credit to the gaffer and the lads that we bounced back," added Duff.

"It's exciting times for a club which two years ago just escaped from relegation on the last day, so we've come a long way since then. The gaffer has come in and done brilliantly ever since.

"We have a small squad but when anyone comes in to do a job, they do great. And with a top manager, working with him every day is going to pay off."

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Topics:
#Europa League
#Tottenham Hotspur
#Sunderland
#Fulham
#Football
#Blackburn Rovers
#Premier League
#Damien Duff
#Aston Villa
#FA Cup