Fulham manager Mark Hughes believes his side still have a lot to play for this season and thinks they can pick up an away victory at Sunderland on Saturday.

The Londoners all but secured their Barclays Premier League survival with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Bolton at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.

Clint Dempsey’s brace and a Brede Hangeland header secured the three points that propelled the side up to ninth in the standings.

With the upper echelons seemingly out of reach and relegation staved off, Fulham could be forgiven for taking it easy for the final four games.

However, boss Hughes insists the inherent motivation within his side will ensure they do not rest on their laurels in those matches, which include home games against Liverpool and Arsenal.

“We have two big games in fairness but we have still got challenges, which I think is good at this time of the year,” he said.

“We want to see the season through to its conclusion and see where it takes us and obviously we have an opportunity to add to our away wins, which have been few and far between.

“We have an opportunity at the weekend, maybe Sunderland will be down on numbers in terms of who they can put out on the field.

“Maybe that will help us but we will still have to play as well as we did on Wednesday to get a positive result but let’s see what happens.”

The victory over Bolton extended Fulham’s unbeaten run at Craven Cottage to eight matches, during which they have taken 19 points out of a possible 24.

Fulham’s last home defeat came at the hands of West Ham on Boxing Day, which left them in the relegation zone.

However, the midweek win saw Hughes’ side into the top 10 and he admits the Hammers’ defeat was a turning point for his side.

“We had a poor result here against West Ham where we didn’t really perform on the day and were in a poor position,” he said.

“After that game we knew we had good quality players that would be coming back very quickly.

“As I’ve said time and time again, my teams are stronger in the second half of the season and that has been brought out.

“It is due to the work we do on a daily basis and the demands we place on the players.

“As a consequence of that, they have been benefiting from that in the second half this season where you need to be strong and have ability in the side that still enables you to compete.”

There have been fewer brighter lights for Fulham this season than America international Dempsey, who wrote himself into the club’s record books on Wednesday.

The midfielder’s brace against the Trotters made him the Cottagers’ record goalscorer in the Premier League, his 33 goals seeing him overtake Steed Malbranque and Brian McBride.

Dempsey 12-goal league haul this season is his highest figure and Hughes was quick to praise the Texan for his performances this season.

“He has been really important for us, certainly in the first part of the season because we were struggling,” he said.

“I didn’t feel we had that quality that we needed and obviously we were having guys coming back and I was playing Clint up there on his own on occasions.

“He still made an impact. If he didn’t score he would set things up for someone else.

“Credit to him, he kept going. It has been a long, hard season for him. Just lately in a couple of games he has looked a bit tired and you think ‘well, should you take him out?’ But you can’t afford to because he will always get you a goal.”