Fulham may be forced to welcome back Steve Marlet after loan club Marseille expressed doubts about the striker.
The French club, who face Liverpool in a UEFA Cup fourth-round tie at Anfield tonight, insist the 29-yearold still has to prove himself before they try to sign him on a permanent deal or extend his loan spell, which runs out in the summer.
“Steve has been injured and he has found it difficult to complete games,” Marseille coach Jose Anigo said today. “Now he is getting back to full fitness, we can judge him properly. But we will wait until the end of the season before deciding who is coming and who is going from the club.”
Since arriving in Marseille, the powerful striker has scored only five goals and missed three months at the turn of the year with an ankle injury.
Anigo is likely to play Marlet in midfield or even leave him on the bench tonight, and he admits the jury is still out on the player Jean Tigana brought to Fulham for a club record £11.5million in 2001.
“It is tough to judge Steve,” Anigo added. “He has only been back a month after his injury and hasn’t been 100 per cent until now.
“We have 11 league games left and the UEFA cup so we shall see.”
Marlet’s future could ultimately depend on whether Marseille qualify for the Champions League. They are sixth in the French League, eight points adrift of a Champions League spot. If they don’t make it, there is little chance of them being able to meet Fulham’s asking price.
Marlet kept his counsel after training at Anfield last night with his team-mates, who include former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. But he said before leaving France that he hoped for an explosive end of season to persuade Marseille to keep him. “I haven’t shown all my potential yet, I know that,” he said.
His indifferent season cost him a place in the last France squad.