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Mark Hughes has shrugged off speculation that defeat to West Ham on Boxing Day could spell the end of his reign as Fulham manager.

Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed is reported to be losing patience with Hughes, who was appointed in July, after a disappointing start to the season.

The Cottagers sit one place above the relegation zone on goal difference and Hughes’ odds in the sack race have shortened, but he is convinced Fulham will start climbing the table, blaming their large number of draws on the absence of striker Bobby Zamora through injury.

“I haven’t spoken to the chairman this week. It hasn’t been discussed with me,” Hughes said. “We have no apprehension about the games ahead of us.

“There will be speculation – there always is. There is nothing I can do about it. I don’t particularly feel under pressure. I’ve been through this before.

“People at the club understand the difficulties we have had this year and that the work we do is good work. At some point in the future we will turn our results into positive results and begin moving up the table.

“All I can do is make sure the team is in the best possible shape to take on top-quality opposition. It’s very obvious where we are and the issues we have within the team.

“We aren’t scoring enough goals due to the personnel missing. It’s about making sure we are still working hard and doing the right things and wait for something to change.

“That has been the case in recent weeks where we needed a break to get our noses in front.”

With West Ham anchored to the foot of the Premier League, Sunday’s showdown at Craven Cottage has plenty at stake, as Hammers boss Avram Grant is also thought to be on the brink of losing his job.

It appears to be a critical match, even though the season has yet to reach the halfway mark, and Hughes believes victory could kickstart his team’s revival.

“In terms of how we are playing, if you look at our record, we have been beaten five times, but four of those games were against teams in the top five,” Hughes said.

“We are very competitive against the rest of the teams and on our day we can beat the top teams as well.

“We will remain positive. We are looking for a positive result against West Ham as that is important for us.

“A good starting point would be to win our game against West Ham, which we feel we are very capable of, and then that would kick us onto a run.”