Brede Hangeland insists that European competition is a real challenge for Fulham and that they shouldn’t use it as an excuse for their league performances.

Fulham sit just above the relegation zone after a slow start to the season – although they have picked up the same number of points (seven) from their first seven games as they did last year when they went on to finish seventh. Some have attributed their league position to Fulham’s European commitments and Roy Hodgson has rejigged the team for the Whites’ Europa League fixtures. But Hangeland insists that Europe should not be considered as an excuse.

From my point of view I think we should never use Europe as an excuse for not doing so well in the league. Getting into Europe is a bonus from doing well last year. We should never feel sorry for playing in those games.

It’s a great experience. It’s about being able to handle a few more games. I think we’ve done that but we can always do better.

A far more likely reason for Fulham’s position in the lower half of the table is their early opposition. Hodgson’s side have faced two of the ‘big four’ in Arsenal and Chelsea as well as Everton and Aston Villa in the opening months of the season.