Hodgson underlines Zamora's importance

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Roy Hodgson feels Bobby Zamora is just as important to Fulham as Wayne Rooney is for Manchester United or Didier Drogba to Chelsea - with the striker facing a battle to be fit for Thursday night's Europa League semi-final second leg against Hamburg at Craven Cottage.

The 29-year-old - whose 19 goals have propelled him into contention for England's World Cup squad - hobbled out of the goalless first leg in Germany after aggravating an Achilles problem and missed the trip to Everton. Zamora has not trained with the rest of the squad, instead continuing his fitness work with the Fulham medical team.

Hodgson admits it will be touch and go whether the striker is available but insists Fulham have the personnel to provide effective cover. "When Wayne Rooney doesn't play for Manchester United, when Steven Gerrard doesn't play for Liverpool, Didier Drogba doesn't play for Chelsea, or when Robin van Persie is out for a long time at the Arsenal, all the headlines are about these people - and those clubs have got riches galore if you compare to us," Hodgson reflected.

"I can't say that it doesn't matter, that players of Zamora's quality and his importance to the team this year, don't matter, because that would be under-valuing the contributions he has made, which have been a fantastic contribution.

"If this does not work out, he certainly will be absolutely devastated, to have been a major influence in us getting so far, and then not be able to take part in the final stage."

Hodgson added: "We will be happy if Bobby can play, but if he can't we will accept that as part and parcel of football, injuries occur.

"We know we have other players in the team who can keep our play going as we saw at Everton on Sunday."

The Fulham boss, however, will take no gambles.

"The decision will be made between myself, the medical team and Bobby himself," said Hodgson.

"He wants to play to help his team-mates and the club do well. But before I make any decision I would want to be sure that the medical staff are telling me if he plays there is no danger, and there is a good chance he will get through the game."

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Europa League
Robin Van Persie
Didier Drogba
Bobby Zamora
Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard

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