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Roy Hodgson has defended his decision to rest as many as nine first-team regulars for Fulham’s Europa League group stage opener against CSKA Sofia tonight.

The Fulham manager has denied that he is devaluing the competition by choosing to rest players with the club’s Premier League campaign in mind, saying that he expects the eleven players he selects to be ‘very competitive’.

We’re not neglecting the tournament. I fully believe the team I put out will be very competitive.

We’re very happy to be in this competition. We’re looking forward to it and think it’s a great adventure, but it’s an adventure for the squad not just 11.

We’ll do the best job we can. We’ve worked hard to get here and will take it for what it is. But we’ve said all along our priority is the Premier League and I’d take beating relegation over winning the Europa League every time.