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Lee Clark will try to put one over on Jim Smith, who gave him his debut as a 17-year-old at Newcastle, when Fulham entertain Portsmouth tonight.

Less than a year after giving Clark his big break, Smith was sacked as Newcastle suffered a dip in fortunes.

Fulham midfielder Clark has always retained an admiration Smith, who is now assistant to Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp.

“I was terrified of him then,” he joked. “But I have a lot of respect for him. He was the man who started me off in my career which was an important factor.

“He was a good manager, a great motivator, he had great passion and enthusiasm for the game.

“He’s had some big clubs and done well. It’s all down to results and he’s had some of his most successful times at Portsmouth as a manager and number two to Harry.”

Chris Coleman and Redknapp come face to face tonight with both in charge of teams who have so far exceeded expectations.

Fulham boss Coleman, at 33 the youngest boss in the top flight, has led the Cottagers up to seventh while wily old campaigner Redknapp has inspired newly-promoted Portsmouth to 11th.

Coleman, for one, is not surprised by what Redknapp has achieved with Pompey.

“They have a lot of players who have played in the Premiership, maybe one or two have not been there before, but a lot of their players have a lot of experience,” he said.

Despite his own fairytale start to his new career after succeeding Jean Tigana at the west London club, Coleman is not getting carried away with the early success.

If he needed any reminder of how tough the job will still be, it came with the 3-1 away defeat to Charlton in Fulham’s last league match a fortnight ago.

Fulham will be without Luis Boa Morte who begins a three-match suspension after being sent off against Liverpool.