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Fulham Vs Aston Villa, Sat 6 Nov 2010

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Mark Hughes has demanded Fulham keep their foot on the pedal as they seek to continue their climb up the Barclays Premier League.

The Cottagers put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone with last weekend's 2-0 victory over Wigan, a result that lifted them to 10th.

It was only their second league win of the season and Hughes wants more of the same when Aston Villa visit south-west London.

"Performance-wise we've been fine but results-wise we want more points on the board," said the Fulham manager.

"We've been playing well this season, although with a bit of frustration with a few draws initially.

"We had a couple of defeats but last weekend I thought we were excellent.

"The level we reached against Wigan was what I'm looking for and I want to make sure the standard we achieved last weekend is maintained against Villa.

"We want to build on that result against Wigan and achieve back-to-back wins.

"If we can pick up six points in two games we'll very much establish ourselves in the top half of the table - and that's where we want to be for the remainder of the season."

Fulham have been lifted by the return to fitness of Damien Duff and Dickson Etuhu, who have recovered from their respective calf and ankle injuries.

"It's been a good week and we're in good shape - Damien Duff has trained most of the week so he's available for selection," said Hughes.

"Dickson Etuhu has been involved over the past few days so he's also an option."

Andy Johnson will continue his comeback from the bench having made two substitute appearances this season.

The former England striker only recently recovered from a combination of shoulder, knee and hip injuries but Hughes insists he will soon be ready to start.

"Every day Andy gets stronger and more ready for 90 minutes," he said.

"He won't start this weekend but we'll look to introduce him at some point in the game.

"Andy's really pleased with where he's at and the way he feels.

"With strikers it's more a timing issue than actually being physically tired in games.

"It's about getting your timing right, arriving at the right time in the box and creating chances in the box when you get the opportunity."

Meanwhile, Gerard Houllier has urged Nathan Delfouneso to make his mark and help Aston Villa overcome a striker crisis.

England Under-21 player Delfouneso will make his first league start in the absence of the injured John Carew, Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Carew is the latest casualty with a torn calf injury suffered in training on Thursday and he will be out of action for three to four weeks.

Heskey underwent surgery on Thursday on his lateral knee ligament injury and will also be out for a month.

Agbonlahor is back in training after a groin operation three weeks ago but it is too early for him to be considered at Craven Cottage.

Houllier said: "It is an ideal opportunity for young Nathan to step up. He will definitely be the main striker.

"Young players don't stay young all their lives. At some stage they will grow and get mature. But their career usually starts when there is an opportunity.

"I know Nathan is not a newcomer because he has already played under Martin (O'Neill) so he knows the Premier League.

"But to him maybe it is an ideal opportunity to put his footprint on things."

Houllier is refusing to be downcast by the growing list of injuries which also includes skipper Stiliyan Petrov.

He added: "Injuries are part and parcel of the football club and that is why we need the squad. I am confident. I think we've got a good squad, a good team.

"We have to deal with things on a daily basis. I am not down. It happens. I am not devastated. In fact, I am confident."

Winger Marc Albrighton is available after serving a one-match ban against Birmingham for his sending-off against Burnley in the Carling Cup and midfielder Steve Sidwell has recovered from a stomach bug. Full-back Habib Beye is also in contention after overcoming an ankle problem.

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

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Aston Villa

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