Hodgson lays down challenge for Elm

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Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has challenged David Elm to "grasp the nettle" as the Swedish striker looks to nail down a regular place in the starting XI.

Elm found it hard to adapt to English football following his £500,000 switch from Kalmar FF last summer but he has finally forced his way into Hodgson's plans. The 27-year-old has started the last two matches, against Bolton and Burnley, and opened his account for Fulham with the team's second goal in the 3-0 win over the Clarets in the Barclays Premier League on Tuesday.

"He has had two very good games on the trot," Hodgson said. "What we are going to find with him, I'm sure, is that it's going to weigh heavily on him game after game but it was really good to see that he has repaid the faith that we've always had in him."

He added: "We've seen a good player in him and we have always believed that if he got his chance, he would be good enough to take it. He now has to grasp the nettle."

Hodgson is keen to take up the option of keeping Elm in south-west London for a further two years, with the player's initial 12-month deal set to come to an end this summer.

Elm will be confident of getting on the scoresheet against County, who are the lowest-ranked club still alive in the cup. Indeed, the Magpies are 65 places below Fulham on the league ladder.

Hodgson has no new injuries to contend with and his absentee list is slowly clearing up, with Zoltan Gera and Paul Konchesky back in training after recovering from knee and foot injuries respectively.

The pair could return to first-team action when Fulham resume their Europa League campaign next Thursday.

"They won't be ready for this weekend but I haven't written them off for the game with Shakhtar Donetsk," Hodgson added.

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Europa League
Paul Konchesky
Bolton Wanderers
Premier League
Newcastle United
Zoltan Gera
David Elm

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