Davies facing fitness test

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Football News

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson will make a late check on Simon Davies ahead of the Barclays Premier League clash against Sunderland on Sunday after the midfielder took a knock to his calf in the victory over CSKA Sofia.

Erik Nevland, Paul Konchesky and Jonathan Greening were all suspended for the Europa League win, so they return to the squad, along with Eddie Johnson, Seol Ki-Hyeon and Kagisho Dikgacoi who were not eligible.

Andy Johnson (groin), Diomansy Kamara and Dickson Etuhu (both knee) are all still struggling for match fitness.

Forward Clint Dempsey is determined to continue making Craven Cottage the fortress it has been over the last year, with Sunderland the next visitors.

The Cottagers' home form helped them qualify for the Europa League this season, with only Chelsea and Arsenal beating Roy Hodgson's men on their own turf during the current Barclays Premier League campaign.

"We don't rely on our home form," said Dempsey.

"We take it one game at a time but you do have to think that at home is where you should get a lot of points because you're used to the ground and you have a lot of people supporting you.

"Last year we did so well at home so why not think that we can do the same this season."

Dempsey was rested for most of Thursday's midweek victory over CSKA Sofia, coming on for the last 20 minutes, and against Sunderland will be looking to continue his goalscoring streak after five goals in his last six league appearances.

"Goals come in waves," said Dempsey. "At the beginning of the season I was shooting from everywhere and had a lot of good chances.

"I had a deflected shot off Bobby Zamora that went in that he got the credit for. Different things happen and you score in waves and you've got to keep shooting and keep working hard to take advantage of your opportunities."

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce remains hopeful that striker Kenwyne Jones can recover from a dead leg.

The Trinidad and Tobago international picked up the injury just minutes into Tuesday night's 3-0 reserve team victory over Wigan on his comeback from a three-match ban.

However, central defender John Mensah is out with a recurrence of a calf problem which is causing some concern.

Midfielder Lee Cattermole could resume during the Christmas programme after returning to training following a medial ligament injury but the game will come too soon for him while keeper Craig Gordon will be sidelined for months yet by a broken arm.

Andy Reid heads for Fulham knowing Sunderland need to strike a balance between attack and defence if they are to end their miserable run on the road.

The 27-year-old midfielder has played a key role in the Black Cats' excellent sequence of results at home, which has brought them victories over Arsenal and Liverpool as well as Blackburn, Hull and Wolves.

However, he has also been part of the side which has picked up just four points from a possible 21 on the road, only one of them in their six trips since the opening day of the campaign.

Defeat has come at Stoke, Burnley, Birmingham, Tottenham and last weekend, Wigan, and that failure is all the more galling as they were within minutes of a famous victory at Manchester United when only an unfortunate Anton Ferdinand own goal rescued a point for the champions.

The inconsistency which has spawned those contrasting sets of results is a source of intense frustration for manager Steve Bruce, who has been delighted with the football his team has served up at home, but puzzled by their inability to reproduce it on their travels.

But Reid for one admits Sunderland may have to be a little more adaptable and not always rely on their passing game away from home.

He said: "It's about getting a balance. If you knock it long all the time, you will be found out, and if you try to pass it all the time, then you will be found out.

"It's not always possible because you come up against different problems every week.

"In the Premier League, you come up against teams that play long ball, you come up against teams that are particularly strong at defending long balls.

"You can't do one or the other the whole time, especially for a team like us. We have to mix it up.

"We have to get the ball down and play, but also at the right times not be afraid to knock it long and look to get on the second ball and play in the opposition's part of the pitch.

"It's about getting the right balance."

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

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Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur
Jonathan Greening
Stoke City
Eddie Johnson
Bobby Zamora
Paul Konchesky
Blackburn Rovers
Lee Cattermole
John Mensah
Anton Ferdinand
Kenwyne Jones
Premier League
Diomansy Kamara
Steve Bruce
Andy Reid
Manchester United
Simon Davies
Dickson Etuhu
Wigan Athletic
Hull City
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Craig Gordon
Clint Dempsey

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