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Stuart Dalgleish 15th Dec 2009 - 20:56

Fulham focusing on more important matters

Roy Hodgson's side head to Switzerland for a must-win game against Basel in Group E of the Europa League.

The Cottagers have put in some good performances in Europe this season, and were just a minute away from a famous win over Italian giants Roma, however they haven't quite managed to put enough points on the board and now look almost certain to miss out on a place in the knock-out stage.

The Fulham boss hasn't hid his feelings about the game, openly admitting that the match at home to Manchester United on Saturday is of far more importance.

And that's fair enough, the league has to be the priority but it's a kick in the teeth for the thousand or so fans that will have booked time off work and saved up money for flights and hotels.

Fulham aren't on bad form, having not lost in five games, but with a weakened side likely to take to the St Jakob-Park pitch the chances of the Cottagers making it through look slim.

Add to this Basel have won both their home games in the group and have only lost once on their own patch in the league, against the leaders Young Boys, it doesn't bode well for the visiting English side.

Some good news for the travelling supporters though, is that they'll get to see midfielders Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu back in action after both have missed sizeable chunks of the last couple of months.

Jonathan Greening and Chris Baird have stood in admirably during the pair's absence, but with the Christmas period coming up it will come as great news for the Whites to have healthy competition for places at the heart of midfield.

Also in the squad will be Andy Johnson, who has missed the best part of two months with injury, the striker probably won't play the full game but he should get some vital minutes under his belt ahead of the big match at the weekend.

The home team are favourites to win the match - and with it a place in the next round - at odds of 23/20, the draw, which will still be good enough for the Swiss outfit, is 23/10; while Hodgson's side are 12/5 to get the win they must achieve to continue their European run.

Fulham will have their work cut out trying to contain Basel's front two, who scored 20 goals between them in the Super League this season, national team legend Alexander Frei is the favourite to grab the opener at 9/2, 6/5 to score at anytime of the match. His strike partner Marco Streller can be backed at 6/1 for the first, 7/4 to pounce at anytime of the match, value could be found with Benjamin Huggel though who weighed in with seven goals from midfield and is tempting at 10/1 to break the deadlock, 7/2 just to notch one during 90 minutes.

For the Cottagers, Bobby Zamora has come in for a bit of stick from the supporters but has hit back by scoring in his last two games, he's 7/1 to get the opening goal and 2/1 to score at anytime. Should Andy Johnson feature he could be worth backing for last goal at 15/2.

It looks to be a tall order for Fulham, make sure you join us to bet In-Play and see if they can make it through.



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