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Shorey might be keen on Fulham stay

I’d be delighted if the excellent Nicky Shorey decided to stay at Fulham. This might seem a bit harsh on Paul Konchesky, but Shorey’s presence has been missed during our last two defeats.

At the moment I am not too sure what will happen, but I’m not in the picture at Villa so I do have to think about that. I’m enjoying my time here and it will definitely be something that I consider when the time comes.

It’s a strange situation really, and in a lot of ways it’s worse than being injured. When a player misses games through injury it’s an enforced absence, but when you are fit and ready to play but still not getting a look in it’s hard to take. It was a frustrating time and hopefully one I won’t experience again.

Could Konchesky be back for Spurs?

My local paper seems to think that ‘Fulham are sweating on the fitness of Paul Konchesky’ ahead of Saturday, although I’m not so sure about that.

It would be a big risk to throw a left back who hasn’t played for a month or so into a high pressure FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham. The consensus from Tuesday night’s reserve game was that Konchesky was feeling his way back to fitness rather than closing in on a first-team return. Besides, Nicky Shorey’s been doing well at left back of late and would be my choice for the Spurs game. Am I wrong?

Kelly comes back in

Stephen Kelly will predictably step into the Fulham back four in place of the cup-tied Nicky Shorey against Shakhtar Donetsk tomorrow.

Roy Hodgson will be without Stefano Okaka, who has already played for Roma in this season’s competition, as well as the injured Andrew Johnson, John Pantsil and Clint Dempsey.

What we learned from yesterday

A few thoughts from the Birmingham game:

1. The Fulham midfield sits too deep. Like on Thursday, we ceded too much space to the opposition as Murphy and Etuhu especially were comfortable with holding a line well short of halfway. Whilst credit could be given to Shakhtar’s football on Thursday, Fulham were just a little too cautious to start with yesterday afternoon. It was noticeable that once we pushed up a good 10-20 yards in the second half the chances began to flow with greater regularity. No surprise that Danny Murphy became more influential after the break either.

2. Nicky Shorey is falliable. Birmingham was his worst game for Fulham by some distance (though that’s not to say he was terrible). Chris Baird might get the blame for the own goal but the Birmingham move began only after the left back misplaced a simple pass. He still got forward to great effect but Shorey will want to forget an uncertain defensive performance.

3. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Chris Baird’s got plenty of character. He shrugged off the setback of heading Birmingham into an early lead by blocking a goalbound shot from Keith Fahey and then playing a raking ball behind the Blues defence for Simon Davies to latch onto. Baird never stopped showing for the ball or raiding forward. Very impressive as lesser players would have hid after such a calamatious opening.

4. Dickson Etuhu needs to improve and fast. Disappointing against Shahktar, Etuhu was jittery again yesterday. Too often, his first pass either went backwards or to a blue shirt and he seemed happy to sit off opponents rather than use his power to win back possession. As Rich mentions in the comments, he seemed to only play for around 70 minutes as well. If we had John Pantsil available, I’d bring Baird back into central midfield.

5. Damien Duff’s magic. Not just for his mazy runs and ability to take on defenders but for the high class of cross he can deliver with his right foot. Then there’s these spectacular goals we’re getting used to. The Irishman doesn’t seem to score a straightforward one – think Everton (at home), Manchester City (away), Bolton (home) and Stoke City (away). He’s such an asset to have in your team.

6. Never leave a Fulham game early. With 15 minutes to go, the stream of usual suspects scurried down the Hammersmith End steps for the exits. They (and Fabio Capello apparently) would have missed Bobby Zamora’s brilliant free-kick. Late goals are becoming a regular feature at the Cottage these days. We can only hope Bobby did enough to impress the England coach in the previous 89 minutes.

Shorey set to return

It seems a bit early for Birmingham team news after last night’s action but I suppose it is Friday after all.

Nicky Shorey looks set to come back into the Fulham line-up after missing the win over Shakhtar Donetsk as he was ineligible. This report also suggests that Paul Konchesky might make a return to the bench, but Kagisho Dikgacoi, Andrew Johnson, Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil are all unavailable.