Fulham coach Ray Lewington says the return of Jimmy Bullard and Brian McBride from long-term injuries saved the team from relegation.

The pair came back into the side in time to help Fulham win four of their last five Premier League games.

Lewington told BBC London 94.9: “We’d been without two key players for most of the season, really influential players, two really big characters.”

“Their contribution to the turn-around has been immense.”

Lewington also revealed his surprise that it was Danny Murphy who got the goal on the final day to earn Fulham the 1-0 victory against Portsmouth that sealed their survival.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen Danny head a ball, he doesn’t even head the ball in training let alone a match!” he added.

“He wasn’t supposed to be in there anyway. On an ordinary day I think the manager Roy Hodgson might have something to say about that because he’s normally very strict on things like that.

“But we’re thankful that he’s used his brains and got in there and put it away.”

Lewington also heaped praise on Hodgson, who took over the west London club when they were already in the relegation zone.

“You can’t measure what he’s done. With Roy, he doesn’t come out and tell people how good he is,” added Lewington.

“He’s the hardest working manager that I’ve ever come across, he’s a terrific coach and he had tunnel vision.

“The players realise this man knows his stuff and start to buy into it. He deserves unbelievable credit.”