Fulham manager Mark Hughes must have felt relief when he heard that Wayne Rooney would be banned for two matches for a verbal spray, with the Cottagers to face Manchester United tomorrow during one of Rooney's no-shows.
“After his performance [in the Champions League], I’m obviously pleased because I thought he was outstanding on the night,” Hughes said.
“Obviously if he’s not available then that’s a positive from our point of view.”
Hughes believes Fulham are in top form in the run in to the end of the season, with the side currently sitting at tenth on the Barclays Premier League table, with only one loss in their last six league games.
“As the season progresses to the business end, they’re getting stronger, and I’ve been more impressed in recent weeks than I’ve been since the beginning of the season,” Hughes said.
“They understand that once you get to this part of the season exactly what needs to be done.
“They’re just going about their business in a fantastic manner and sweeping everyone aside."
Hughes cited the West Ham game on Boxing Day, the last defeat in a slump that lasted from mid-October and which left Fulham in relegation trouble, as proof that when the Cottagers should never be discounted.
“Their performance against West Ham where they found themselves in a difficult situation, they didn’t panic, they got on with the job and they turn things around.
“It’s because they’ve a mentality and a manager that demands that of them.”