Mark Hughes believes Fulham deserve a top-10 finish after the Cottagers routed Sunderland 3-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Simon Davies nabbed a brace and Gael Kakuta added another for Fulham, who took full advantage of Sunderland’s injury-ravaged line-up to record just their second away win of the season.
The Cottagers are ninth on the table with 45 points with games against Liverpool, Birmingham City and Arsenal to come, a terrific position given the club were considered dark horses for relegation earlier this year.
Hughes believes his club deserves to stay in the top 10 on their recent form, calling on his players to ensure they take a full nine points in the run-in.
“We have still got games and we will try and do our best in each of them,” Hughes told Sky Sports.
“If we get maximum points out of those games we should be very much in that top 10, which is where we think we deserve to be.”
Sunderland struggled for chances all game without a single recognised striker, with winger Stephane Sessegnon filling in up front for injured trio Asamoah Gyan, Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell.
But Hughes said he expected Fulham would have taken three points regardless of Sunderland’s fitness woes.
“It was difficult for Sunderland, obviously they have got injuries and are struggling for strikers themselves,” he said.
“But even so, the way we played today, certainly in the second half, we would have gone away with the win.”
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was less convinced, saying he expected any club in the English Premier League would struggle with an injury list as long as his.
“Everybody who knows what has happened to Sunderland knows the problems we have had,” he said.
“They have been horrific and today it was shown. I don’t think there are many Premier League teams without a striker, and even the young ones we had in the reserves and the youth team got injured in midweek so it compounded the problem.”
“The reason why our season got off to a wonderful start is that for six months there was a resilience and we didn’t give much away.”
“But our defending today with the change in personnel was not good enough at this level and we got punished.”
“When you give away bad goals like that, you expect frustrating days like today.”