Mark Hughes was left ruing the likely loss of Bobby Zamora for at least four months after the Fulham striker suffered a broken ankle during the bruising 2-1 win over Wolves.
Zamora’s injury took the gloss off a hard-earned three points for the Cottagers, who came from behind to secure the win courtesy of two goals from summer signing Moussa Dembele.
The injury blow was cruel on Zamora, who had begun to work his way into England manager Fabio Capello’s plans and on Friday celebrated signing a new four-year deal with Fulham.
The 29-year-old was stretchered off at Craven Cottage, and now faces a nervous wait to discover the full extent of his injury.
“If the injury is as we think it is, it’s likely to be four months,” Hughes said on Saturday. “If the surgeon goes in tomorrow and finds other damage rather than just the break, which is four centimetres above his ankle, it will be even longer than that. The four months looks like a minimum.”
Hughes acknowledged the timing of the injury was particularly hard on Zamora, who has blossomed over the past 12 months after unsuccessful spells with Spurs and West Ham where he was routinely ridiculed by fans.
“Bobby had got to a point where he was playing at a high level and producing week-in, week-out,” said Hughes.
“Bobby would be honest enough to admit he hasn’t been able to maintain that level of performance over long periods during his career.
“But he’s reached that point so to be taken out of top level football for four months is a real disappointment for him and us.
“I’ve spoken to him already and he seems to be in good spirits.”
While Fulham’s fans gave full vent to their anger at Wolves’s physical approach — which earned six yellow cards and one red — Hughes had no complaints about Mick McCarthy’s tactics.
“Wolves were competitive as you’d expect. Mick McCarthy sets his teams up to compete for every ball,” he said.
“The Premier League is competitive and I’ve had similar criticism in the past. Sometimes it’s warranted and sometimes it isn’t.
“Maybe today some of the fouls were made to break up our momentum and maybe at times were a little bit cynical. That’s why the crowd was getting frustrated.
“I’d never criticise any team for trying to be competitive against us – that’s part and parcel of the Premier League.”
McCarthy took exception to criticism of Wolves play, which at one stage prompted chants of “You’re a disgrace to the Premiership” from Fulham fans.
“I think it’s grossly unfair. I’m really sorry to hear about Bobby but Danny Murphy came to me and said he’d have a word with Bobby because it was a fair and good tackle,” said McCarthy.
“We were involved in a tough game on TV a couple of weeks ago and suddenly we’re the devil incarnate, but we’re far from that. We compete and compete fairly.”
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