Fulham Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sat 17 Apr 2010

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John Pantsil will make his first appearance since December in Fulham's Barclays Premier League game against Wolves.

The defender has recovered from the cruciate knee ligament injury he picked up against Chelsea which had threatened to end his season.

David Elm is still struggling to recover from a virus while Clint Dempsey (thigh) and Andy Johnson (knee) remain sidelined.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson admits he will go into the clash against Wolves with dreams of European glory in the back of his mind.

The Cottagers passed the 40-point mark with a 2-1 victory over Wigan a fortnight ago, while Wolves' recent good form has seen them move six points clear of the drop zone with four matches remaining.

He said: "It would be nice to say that I have only thought about Wolves and that we haven't thought about Hamburg, but if I said that it wouldn't be accepted because anybody in their right minds would know that the semi-final of a Europa League is a massive occasion for any club, let alone a club like Fulham.

"As a club we haven't had any European experience so of course we have it in the back of our minds.

"There were several hundred teams who entered the Europa League at the start of the campaign and we are happy to be one of the final four.

"We realise that we are in touching distance of such a major trophy and I'm sure that the two matches we play we will give our utmost to get there."

As well as reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League, the Cottagers made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and also look set to finish in the top half of the Premier League table.

Hodgson has deservedly earned many plaudits for his efforts, especially given a transfer budget that was tiny in comparison to most top flight sides.

He admits he would like the money to sign one or two players this summer in order to avoid the chaos that hit his side in February, when injuries to several key players decimated his side.

"We have no deals lined up at the moment," the 62-year-old said. "But it's something that our scouts work on daily. They work their socks off trying to find names and suggest players.

"I do think that we could do with that little bit more help with one or two more players in there to make certain that we keep competition for players high, and also so that when we do lose players through injury, like we have done this season, we have the kind of players that are as competent and talented as the ones we have lost."

Wolves will again be without skipper Karl Henry who will have to serve the second game of a three-match ban for his red card against Arsenal a fortnight ago.

Dave Edwards could again deputise as Wolves look to build on a run of nine points from the last six games which has moved them six points clear of the bottom three.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has no fresh injury worries following the goalless home draw with Stoke last weekend.

McCarthy insists he never lost faith in Wolves' ability to survive and believes his players have become "more streetwise."

Wolves are on the verge of securing another season in the top flight but it was a different story in late November when Wolves were beaten at home by Birmingham after an inept display and dropped to second from bottom.

But McCarthy never pressed the panic button and remained calm in the knowledge his players were good enough to finish outside of the relegation places.

McCarthy said: "It's amazing how many happy faces there are around because we are six points clear of the bottom three at this moment.

"But when we were in the bottom three did you detect any anxiety from me? I don't think so. I tried to stay calm and said `let's see how many points we end up with.'

"When we lost to Birmingham at home, I was still full of belief and convinced we'd get the points to stay up.

"I didn't like certain comments I heard about us that were floating around, that we just work hard and run about, as if that is what you get from teams who are promoted.

"I would like to think that what people think of us is slightly different in that we do pass the ball around and do more than compete.

"If you allow outside influences to affect your thinking, than you will suffer but within these walls there was a calm and self confidence that we can stay in this league - although we have still got work to do."

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John Pantsil
Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers

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