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Fulham still in relegation dogfight

SoccerNews in English Premier League 1 Apr 2011

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Mark Hughes does not believe the unpredictable nature of the Premier League relegation battle is going to change now.

His Fulham side have been one of the few to put a run of games together since the turn of the year and force their way out of trouble.

But the former Manchester City manager is keeping an eye over his shoulder ahead of Sunday’s match with Blackpool as he looks to climb the table and hit a points target that may be the highest ever required for Premier League survival.

“There have been very few years in the past where 40-plus points have been needed but maybe this year is different,” Hughes said.

“The top teams have dropped points and the teams at the bottom have gained points and it’s been like that all the way along and it doesn’t look like it is going to change any time soon.”

Hughes pits his wits against one of the division’s most outspoken and eccentric managers, Ian Holloway, this Sunday and he believes his rival’s approach to top-flight football is to be commended.

“Ian Holloway has done a fantastic job. I think everyone has enjoyed the way they have come into the Premier League and decided that they are going to enjoy it and attack teams,” Hughes said.

Fulham, who have struggled so much this season with injuries to key men, especially their strikers, received an almost clean bill of health following the recent international break – much to their manager’s relief.

“We have guys that have comeback from the international break having racked up a lot of air miles like Carlos Salcido and Clint Dempsey so we are looking to take care of them as we know the amount that travel can effect players, but all in all we are in good shape,” he said.

Aaron Hughes dislocated a shoulder on international duty with Ireland and although it was not as severe as first thought, he is a doubt for Sunday

Steve Sidwell has returned from a knee injury and has impressed Hughes in training and Bobby Zamora has returned to match fitness but has been struggling with illness which could rule him out of the starting line-up.

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