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Rene Meulensteen hopes Brede Hangeland’s return to fitness can help plug the hole in Fulham’s leaky defence.

The struggling Cottagers have conceded 46 goals in just 21 games – the most in the Premier League – to leave them hovering just above the drop zone.

Hangeland hasn’t featured since October due to a sciatic nerve problem, but the Norwegian is due to make his comeback in tonight’s FA Cup replay against Norwich.

Meulensteen said: “It’s a massive boost to have him back because he’s been here for so long and knows the club inside out.

“He knows how important it is to get things back on track and has been very frustrated with the injury. He’s knocking on the door and is raring to go.

“He’s an experienced central defender who’s calm on the ball and capable of playing out of the back and feeding the ball to the midfield. He’s an attacking threat in the opposition box with set plays and corners as well.”