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Aaron Hughes insists Fulham are better than their results suggest but warns they cannot blame bad luck and poor refereeing decisions for their place in the bottom three of the Premier League.

Fulham have won only once in the league this season despite manager Lawrie Sanchez’s close-season major makeover of the squad.

The former Northern Ireland boss is under pressure admitted after yesterday’s 2-0 setback against Portsmouth: “That’s the first time we’ve slipped below the standards we have set ourselves.”

And centre-back Hughes said: “We knew it was going to be a tough game.

“Portsmouth are a decent side, take nothing away from them, but we know we can play a lot better then we did in the second half.”

Fulham slipped to 18th place in the table and even though only three points separate them from 11th spot, Hughes admitted: “The fact that we should have picked up a few more points by now creates, for some people, the impression of a false position.

“It was said previously we are almost there as a side and that is probably true – but there comes a point when you do actually have to be there.”

Sanchez has challenged his squad, boosted by 15 new signings in the summer, to show they are good enough for the Premier League by rising up the table with wins in their next three games against Derby, Sunderland and Reading.

“They are sides we should be looking to beat,” said Sanchez who was jeered off along with his players by the Fulham crowd on Sunday night.

And former Newcastle and Aston Villa star Hughes recalled: “”We played reasonably well in the first half. We were compact and made quite a few chances.

“But we didn’t start the second half well and before we knew it we were two goals down and chasing the game.

“I was very disappointed we didn’t get going in the second half the way we finished the first.”

“I still think we are a better side than that and it’s still quite tight in the table. People have been saying we’re in a false position but it’s only false to a certain point.”