Fulham’s board have told manager Mark Hughes his job is safe and he will be backed in the transfer window next month, despite the club’s recent slide down the Premier League table.
Hughes has overseen a run in which Fulham have not managed a win since October, while 10 draws out of their 17 league games has left them hovering above the bottom three only on goal difference.
The Fulham board however accept that Hughes’ squad have struggled to cope with the absence of striker Bobby Zamora who suffered a broken leg against Wolverhampton Wanderers in September, coupled with the loss of summer arrival Moussa Dembélé after the forward was ruled out with an ankle injury sustained on international duty with Belgium last month.
As a result the manager will have around £10m to spend next month, and a striker is his priority. Roque Santa Cruz, who has already been signed twice by Hughes, is the main target.
Hughes brought him to Blackburn Rovers from Bayern Munich in 2007 for £3.5m, and then two years later took him to Manchester City for £17.5m.
The 29-year-old Paraguayan has made just one Premier League appearance for City this season, as a second-half substitute against Birmingham last month, and is now surplus to requirements at Eastlands. A fee of around £8m is within Fulham’s grasp but Santa Cruz would have to agree to cutting his current wages of £75,000 a week.
If Santa Cruz proves too expensive, Hughes is also looking at the £4m-rated Lacina Traoré, a 20-year-old forward from the Ivory Coast who plays for Romanian champions CFR Cluj and at 6ft 8in is taller than even Tottenham’s Peter Crouch. Fulham are also exploring the possibility of signing United States international Landon Donovan on loan from LA Galaxy.
The need for a striker is a pressing one for Fulham, who have scored just 16 times in 17 Premier League games. Last weekend Hughes said: “We are missing a Bobby Zamora type and he will not be back until the end of January or the start of February if everything goes to plan. So if there’s someone we can bring in to help us, we will look at it. But more often than not strikers cost a lot of money at Premier League level, so we will have to see.”