Brede Hangeland is relishing the chance to keep Norway team-mate John Carew quiet at Craven Cottage this weekend to kick-start Fulham’s bid for Premier League survival.
Roy Hodgson has recruited physically imposing players this January and at 6ft 4in, Hangeland is the man he wants at the heart of his defence.
Hangeland admitted he had to adapt sharply to the pace of the English top flight when he made his debut in the midweek stalemate at Bolton, and his first home appearance may not get easier marking Aston Villa man-mountain Carew.
“I’ve played John Crew in training many times but never in a match,” said the 26-year-old.
“He’s a big man like myself so it will be interesting. Most strikers will be a handful and he will be.
“I haven’t given my team-mates inside information on John yet but if they ask me I will have a few things to tell them. He’s very big so we’ll be evenly matched.”
Hangeland, along with fellow Fulham newcomer Erik Nevland, was involved in a relegation battle while at FK Viking.
Hodgson rescued the Norwegian club that season and Hangeland has tipped him to do the same at Craven Cottage.
“It was close at Viking but we made it in the end and hopefully history will repeat itself,” he said.
“I was there for many years with Erik before Roy came in. He came in in a similar situation to Fulham now.
“He knows how to organise the team well and get every player to do his best. That’s what helped us at Viking and hopefully he can do the same again.
“Other than that I haven’t been involved in relegation battles. I came from a top team in Denmark so it is a big change for me right now.
“Of course everyone would like to be at the top and it is not an easy situation to be in but you have to do your best to get results and we all know what we have to do.”
There were no relegation fears at FC Copenhagen, but Hangeland could not turn down a chance to play in England, even with Fulham staring at a relegation dogfight.
“It’s been a goal for me for many years to come to the Premier League,” he said.
“It’s also good that I knew the manager from when I played in Norway and I heard good things about Fulham. So it was an easy decision for me.”
He has a clean sheet at Bolton so far and is determined to build on his debut.
“It wasn’t a shock but it was faster than I was used to,” he added. “Especially since I came directly from the winter break in Scandinavian football, it took some time to get used to it. But I think it went all right.
“I was happy with my performance but my performance is not that important compared to how the team plays and getting points.”
Hodgson may hand Nevland his debut but Paul Stalteri has a dead leg and Jari Litmanen is not match-fit, while Eddie Johnson has only just returned from the United States and could be jet-lagged.
The good news for Hodgson is another American, Brian McBride, has returned to full training this week.