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Chris Coleman believes American striker Brian McBride can fill the yawning gap caused by Louis Saha’s big-money departure to Manchester United.

Fulham manager Coleman fended off criticism of McBride who laboured on his own at St Mary’s without support as Southampton spurned enough chances to have won easily.

McBride was a cut-price deadline £550,000 signing from MLS club Columbus Crew compared with the massive £12.85m Fulham received for Saha – and it showed.

The 31 year-old was limited to two half chances late in the match, but still did enough to convince Coleman he was capable of replacing Saha.

Coleman said: “This is the first time we have not scored since Louis Saha left and that was because we were tired and jaded after the FA Cup match with Everton in the week. I am positive McBride will prove himself in time. He is not used to being the lone striker and he did not get the best of service.

“We play with only one front-runner as they do in Italy and France so it is a tough job. Brian had a couple of opportunities and it was just one of those games for him. I have no doubts about him and once he becomes used to our methods, I am convinced he will become a good signing.”