The American international striker Eddie Johnson spent yesterday in talks with Fulham as the club closed in on making him the first signing of Roy Hodgson’s managerial tenure.

Johnson, 23, who plays for the Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer, has been close to a move to Europe on several occasions, notably to Derby County last summer, when a £3m fee was agreed only for him to decide to stay put.

Fulham are in a parlous position in the Barclays Premier League’s relegation zone, five points adrift of safety, and they need increased cutting edge up front. They have missed Brian McBride to injury and with Diomansy Kamara at the African Cup of Nations, Hodgson’s options are restricted at present to David Healy and Clint Dempsey.

The club have seen a £4m bid for Marlon King rejected by Watford and their move for Johnson comes as hopes of luring King fade. If Johnson can agree terms, he will become the fifth American in the Fulham squad, joining McBride, Dempsey, Kasey Keller and Carlos Bocanegra.

Hodgson is also keen to reinforce his defensive options but he fears the Liverpool will not sanction the departure of Sami Hyypia, his leading target.