Fulham boss Mark Hughes believes he has identified skipper Danny Murphy as the man who can drive his side to a top-10 finish.
The Cottagers have revived their fortunes in recent weeks after being too close to the bottom of the table for comfort.
But even through their lean times, 33-year-old Murphy was a consistent performer and he drew praise from Hughes and his former boss Gerard Houllier after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.
Hughes said: “Danny was excellent again. He has been really consistent this year in fairness.
“Early in the season, we weren’t getting many plaudits because we were struggling to pick up points.
Right through the season from the start to now, Danny has put consistently excellent performances together.
“He has driven the team on. At the moment we are getting positive results and people are recognising the job that Danny has done this year.”
Houllier, who was Murphy’s boss at Liverpool, said: “I thought Danny Murphy was good. I am sorry to say that!
“Danny is playing with his head. I understand why they gave him a new contract because he is a tremendous passer.
“I know Danny and he’s always looked after himself. He’s not a silly boy, he loves the game and he wants to play.”