Hodgson remains cautious

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Manager Roy Hodgson insists he would be honoured if Fulham could secure a place in Europe next season but is refusing to get excited about the prospect just yet.

The Cottagers moved into seventh place in the top flight thanks to a 29th minute goal from substitute Erik Nevland in a 1-0 win against Stoke. It pushed Fulham ahead of West Ham in the race to qualify for a place in next season's Europa League.

"It would be a great honour and a tribute to the work the players have put in this year if they could sneak this seventh place," said Hodgson. "But the competition for that place is still very strong. We can't rule out Manchester City, Tottenham, Wigan and West Ham."

He added: "Any one of those four, plus ourselves, can take that seventh place and it will all depend on who can keep their season going to the death and get the right results.

"There is no guarantee we will be in top seven in four games time. A lot can happen in that time. We have got a tough programme with Everton and Aston Villa and Chelsea and Newcastle away.

"So I think today's victory was important for us to bring us up to 47 points because it distances us from some of the teams around the middle of the table."

Fulham lost strikers Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson through injury in the opening half-hour but Hodgson was pleased with the performances of their replacements - matchwinner Nevland and Diomansy Kamara.

"I was really delighted that we won it after losing our two front players as early as we did," added Hodgson. "Bobby was fine on Friday but apparently damaged his back Saturday morning doing something quite menial.

"I don't know exactly what it was. When he came to the game, he was complaining his back was in a bit of a spasm and causing him problems. We were hoping that, as he warmed-up, the pain would go and he would recover his mobility.

"But he didn't so we had to take him off very early and shortly after that Andrew got the knock on his medial ligament and had to come off as well."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City
Bobby Zamora
Manchester City
Premier League
Diomansy Kamara
Wigan Athletic
Andrew Johnson
Aston Villa

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