Hughes wants Sidwell to hunt Wolves

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has backed new signing Steve Sidwell to play a big part for his new side – starting with Saturday’s trip to Wolves.The midfielder initially joined on a six-month loan from Aston Villa in January but was given a three-year contract on Monday.

Sidwell could have been playing for the home side on Saturday as he had a deal lined up with Wolves before choosing the Londoners.

“Steven has shown enough in the time that he has been here that he is going to be a big part of where we are going,” Hughes said.

“We could have waited but we wanted him to understand that he was a part of what we are trying to do.”

“We are delighted to bring him on board.”

Fulham could be set to qualify for next season’s Europa League competition through the Fair Play system but Hughes said that could seriously disrupt their English Premier League campaign.

When Fulham battled their way to the final of the competition in 2009-10, their league form was hit and Hughes is wary of his players getting too tired.

“I can see the thinking behind the Fair Play system. It does impact on the club’s coming season,” he said.

“There is a significant amount of games you have to play to play to progress to benefit financially.”

And Hughes had kind words for Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier, who went to hospital on Wednesday night with an unspecified health problem. Houllier’s condition has been described as comfortable.

“Our thoughts are with Gerard and his family. It’s a trying time for them and for the club. We wish him well,” Hughes said.

“He has history in the past of poor health and I hope it is nothing serious. When we are in the job that we are, pressure builds up.”

“This time of year stress comes to the fore. It’s a difficult job and we have to accept that.”

“There’s a focus on managers and how their teams are doing. That demand falls on the shoulders of the managers.”

Midfielder Damien Duff (Achilles) is definitely out and although defender Philippe Senderos is recovering well from a similar injury, he will also be absent.