Roy Hodgson reckons Fulham should have more than enough quality to see off Vetra tomorrow night – even though they are some way off being ready for the start of the league campaign.
Their Lithuanian opponents reached the third qualifying round with a stunning 3-1 win over HJK Helsinki in the previous round – and Hodgson, who travelled to Finland to watch the second leg, said they more than merited their victory.
Vetra deserved to beat HJK – they were clearly the better team. But if I was about to apply for a job at both clubs – I know which one I would rather coach – and it isn’t the one in Lithuania. We have the depth, experience and know-how that should see us into the next round – providing we play to our capabilities.
Hodgson also admitted his preparations for the new season have been hit by the international commitments of the likes of Dickson Etuhu, John Pantsil and Clint Dempsey.
It’s true players have been returning to us in bits and pieces. And so far, there have only been three or four who’ve played 90 minutes at any level. We’re a way off being ready for the first Premiership match – but if we can get past this hurdle, we’ll be much better prepared for the next round in the middle of August.
Fulham should be pretty close to full strength tomorrow night. John Pantsil should take his place at right-back having shaken off a cold whilst Andy Johnson is available for selection again after missing Saturday’s friendly at Peterborough. Simon Davies, who is still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, is the only long-term absentee.