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Mark Hughes believes that against all the odds Mark Schwarzer will sign a new contract and stay with Fulham.

The wantaway keeper was sorely miffed in the summer after a £2.5million switch to Arsenal was vetoed by the Whites – and hints that followed from the Aussie’s camp suggested he would walk away from Craven Cottage a free man next May and into a lucrative deal abroad.

Shay Given at Manchester City was mooted as the obvious replacement.

But Schwarzer’s Fulham manager made it plain today the World Cup keeper is a priority in the contract negotiation stakes, and suggested talks were well down the road in securing the 37-year-old for the next two seasons as well.

Hughes said: “We’re not looking any further than Mark Schwarzer because we believe he’s going to be our keeper.

“We’ve been talking with Mark in recent weeks – we want to make that happen, so hopefully we’ll soon have some goods news about his future.”