Great write-up on Fulham’s progress in today’s Belfast Telegraph. The Whites seem to be getting a great deal of attention in the Northern Irish press these days by virtue of the performances of the excellent Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird, who has been outstanding in three different positions this season, and it was a nice touch from Nigel Worthington to allow both players to miss their country’s disappointing defeat in Albania on Wednesday, which extended Northern Ireland’s dismal away run.
Both players have reached showpiece finals before, even if Fulham will only get to a Wembley semi-final should they beat Tottenham tomorrow. Hughes was at the home of English football twice in two seasons as Newcastle played in successive FA Cup finals but finished on the losing side. Baird made only his second start for Southampton in a Cardiff FA Cup final, when the Saints narrowly lost to Arsenal in 2003, but he hardly looked fazed by the experience.
Hughes says he would prefer an FA Cup run to a European one, although just to be asked the question is testament to how well Fulham are doing of late under Roy Hodgson.
For us to even talk about winning either of them is a massive thing. I’d rather win the FA Cup because it’s a domestic competition and as a kid growing up it’s the one you think about.
The FA Cup still has that something special, especially now it’s back at Wembley. It’s a massive day. That said, if we could progress in the Europa League I wouldn’t say no.
Hughes has wholesome praise for his defensive partner Brede Hangeland, although as many would acknowledge, the understated Northern Ireland captain has been just as crucial to Fulham’s success of late.
Brede has everything you could want a central defender to have. He’s 6ft 5 and his aerial capabilities are fantastic, but for such a big lad he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, he can see a pass and play it. We’ve formed a good partnership and you can see why he had interest from other clubs.
Baird’s delighted with Fulham’s performances this year.
It shows how far the club’s come. To finish seventh last season and qualify for Europe was absolutely fantastic.
Now that we’re in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and in the last 16 in the Europa League it shows what a good side we really are. We don’t want it to end, we want to keep going and see how far we can go