Hodgson sweats on key pair

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has admitted it would be a huge loss if Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff don't shrug off respective Achilles and knee problems to play in his side's Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.

The showpiece in Hamburg will see the Cottagers challenge for silverware in the continent's secondary club competition after a stunning European adventure this term.

They have defeated current holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian giants Juventus, Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg and Hamburg in the semi-finals to earn their place in the final, but, without their prized assets, a victory may be hard to come by.

Zamora has hit six goals while Duff, who has been instrumental in teeing the frontman up, has been hailed by Hodgson for his professionalism.

Speaking to reporters, Hodgson said:"If Damien and Bobby are unable to play in the final it will be a major, major blow because they are players who have played a decisive part in getting us where we are today.

"Duff is outstanding. When the annals of Irish history are written and there have been some good players over the years, he will be right up there with them. He'd have 100 caps already but for one or two serious injuries.

"He's been the Damien I got to know as a young boy at Blackburn. Several people tried to dissuade me that he was a totally different player I was signing, but I'm pleased to say they were wrong and I've been right.

"If anything he's a better player today because he was always very clever in his play, but the ten years of experience has not done him any harm.

"Damien Duff didn't come to Fulham for money, that's for sure. If he'd wanted serious money he would have stayed at Newcastle to see his contract out. He came here to play football."

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