Fulham midfielder Jonathan Greening believes Fulham have shown they have a squad that can compete on several fronts after their second string pushed Manchester City all the way in the Carling Cup.
None of the starting line-up from last night’s defeat are likely to start Saturday’s home game against Arsenal.
However, Roy Hodgson goes into the next phase of Europa League matches knowing that Greening, Zoltan Gera, Chris Baird and Stephen Kelly have come through 120 minutes against highflying City.
And the Fulham manager can also console himself with the fact that several youngsters and fringe players showed they are capable of filling in after completely changing the team that lost 2-1 at Wolves on Sunday.
Chris Smalling, who was playing non-League football for Maidstone just over a year ago, once again showed what a promising future he has.
And Hodgson gave debuts to Kagisho Dikgacoi, David Elm and Joe Anderson as Fulham matched a City team that showed just one change to the team that lost 4-3 at Manchester United.
Hodgson gave his back-up players the chance to impress in the 1-1 draw with CSKA Sofia against City and the vast majority stepped up to the mark.
With Europe to juggle, few at Craven Cottage will be losing any sleep at being knocked out of the Carling Cup in such an honourable manner.
And with many feeling that Fulham defied the odds last season due to a lack of injuries, Greening claims they have shown they now have a decent squad to compete at the top.
He said: “There’s depth and real quality throughout at Fulham. The boss can call on anybody now and some of the boys put on some good performances against Manchester City.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult game because City have spent a lot of money over the last couple of years.
“They’ve got quality running through the side but the manager wanted to give the team that played in Sofia a chance to impress.”
Despite City dominating the possession, Fulham even took a shock lead last night thanks to Gera’s thumping half-volley.
Slack marking allowed Gareth Barry to head in from a Craig Bellamy corner just after the interval but Hodgson’s stubborn outfit continued to contain City and forced extra time.
And moments after Bjorn Helge Riise curled narrowly wide, former Arsenal man Kolo Toure was left unmarked at the far post to head in Martin Petrov’s corner.
Greening, 30, who is on a season-long loan deal from West Brom, feels that a similar display on Saturday will be enough to push Arsenal all the way.
He added: “After our disappointing performance against Wolves, it’s up for us to put it right against a top-quality side like Arsenal. If we show the same kind of attitude we did against City, we’ll be fine on Saturday.
“The only disappointing thing about the City game is that they didn’t open us up and score. It was two sloppy set-pieces that they scored their goals from.”
England Under-21 international Smalling oozed authority at the back and Greening thinks he will soon be threatening established centre-half partnership Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.
He said: “He’s really impressed me since I’ve been here.”