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Fulham Vs West Ham United, Sun 26 Dec 2010

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Mark Hughes will give a fitness test to Mousa Dembele before deciding whether he will play any part in Fulham's Boxing Day derby clash with fellow relegation strugglers West Ham.

Dembele returned to training this week after spending the last five weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Matthew Briggs (calf) is out until next month, while Bobby Zamora (leg) and Philippe Senderos (Achilles) should return in February.

Hughes shrugged off speculation that defeat could spell the end of his reign as Fulham manager.

Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed is reported to be losing patience with Hughes, who has presided over a disappointing start to the season.

The Cottagers sit one place above the relegation zone in the Barclays Premier League on goal difference and Hughes' odds in the sack race have shortened.

But the Welshman is convinced Fulham will start climbing the table, blaming their large number of draws on the absence of striker Bobby Zamora through injury.

"I haven't spoken to the chairman this week. It hasn't been discussed with me," said Hughes, who was appointed in July.

"We have no apprehension about the games ahead of us. There will be speculation, there always is. There is nothing I can do about it.

"I don't particularly feel under pressure. I've been through this before.

"People at the club understand the difficulties we have had this year and that the work we do is good work.

"At some point in the future we will turn our results into positive results and begin moving up the table.

"All I can do is make sure the team is in the best possible shape to take on top-quality opposition. It's very obvious where we are and the issues we have within the team.

"We aren't scoring enough goals due to the personnel missing. It's about making sure we are still working hard and doing the right things and wait for something to change.

"That has been the case in recent weeks where we needed a break to get our noses in front."

Goalkeeper Robert Green could be back after recovering from a minor hip operation to give West Ham a boost.

Valon Behrami and Victor Obinna could also return but midfielder Mark Noble is still a doubt with a hip injury while Jack Collison, Manual Da Costa and Thomas Hitzlsperger are all out.

Winger Luis Boa Morte misses out through suspension, but Freddie Sears could be included after returning from loan at Scunthorpe.

Avram Grant insists there is no way he would allow Scott Parker to leave the relegation-threatened club in the January transfer window.

Grant admits the rock-bottom Hammers are likely to be busy in the transfer market as he fights to save his job and West Ham attempt to claw their way to Premier League safety.

But while he is looking to bring in several reinforcements, Parker, who has been linked with a possible move to Tottenham, will be going nowhere.

Grant admitted West Ham are close to completing a deal with Aston Villa for midfielder Steve Sidwell, but when asked if Parker could be leaving he said: "No chance.

"Scott Parker is more than a good player for this football club. Even though we are at the bottom, we are trying to do the right things for this club.

"We know all the teams that succeeded did not have it so easy at the start.

"He is one of the foundations of this club. The owners have made it very clear that they want Scott Parker here and want good players here.

"We don't have many like Scott Parker and it would not be good for us if he left the club and I don't think it would be good for him. He knows what the vision of the club is and he is part of it."

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Topics:
Fulham
Football
Premier League
West Ham United

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