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A plain-spoken Chris Coleman was realistic about Fulham’s precarious Premier League position after his side threw away the chance to pick up a precious three points at Southampton last night. The Fulham boss admitted his charges were very much in the midst of a battle against the drop, but refused to blame his young defenders for the club’s predicament.

“We are always going to be looking over our shoulders. We are in a battle and it will be like this until the end of the season. I am still delighted with the guys because we have really had a go in the last two games.

I was a bit frustrated at some of the defending at Southampton but when I was playing at this level at their age I was doing the same things. Zat Knight is 24 years old, Carlos Bocanegra 25, Zesh Rehman is 21 and Liam Rosenior just 20. They are kids and are going to make mistakes. Rosenior may have been our youngest defender but he was also our best and it was cruel that he scored an own goal.”

Coleman has been forced to field an inexperienced back four following injuries to Alain Goma, Ian Pearce and Moritz Volz. The German full back should return for Fulham’s next league fixture – against West Brom on January 16th – although Andrew Cole will miss the meeting with the Baggies after being booked last night. Tomasz Radzinski is a serious doubt for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Watford after injuring his hamstring whilst scoring on the south coast last night.

Coleman’s position is thought to have been strengthened by the departure of Fulham chief executive Jim Hone earlier this week. The pair did not see eye-to-eye on the composition of the squad and Coleman believes he should now be able to tie down Luis Boa Morte and Edwin van der Sar to new contracts.

“I don’t see any of our players leaving us. We hope to bring in a couple and are trying to get one or two players on new contracts, which I am optimistic about. This season we have always had five or six senior players unavailable and with a squad our size that is always going to be a struggle.”