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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Martin Jol backs off talk on Clint Dempsey

Fulham manager Martin Jol on Saturday said his statement a day ealier that Clint Dempsey was refusing to play was "probably a bit harsh."

Dempsey, Fulham's American midfielder who scored 23 goals last season, did not play in Saturday's 5-0 win over Norwich. He is seeking a move to a Champions League club, with Liverpool having showing interest.

"To say he refused to play is probably a bit harsh, but he wanted to move and if you want to move, you don't want to take risks so you don't want to play in case you get an injury," Jol said Saturday. "So for me that was a very awkward situation and it was for him as well."

Jol launched a furious attack on Liverpool on Friday for failing to follow up its initial interest in Dempsey with a firm bid for the player. Jol said Friday that it was "impossible" for Dempsey to remain at Craven Cottage, but he now seems open to the possibility of Dempsey staying.

"There is nothing on the table from Liverpool," he said. "Maybe Clint knows more than us but we feel he should stay if there is no other bid."

The Cottagers coped admirably without him by recording a 5-0 thrashing courtesy of goals from Damien Duff, Steve Sidwell, Alex Kacaniklic and double from debutant Mladen Petric.

The home fans greeted Fulham's fifth goal by chanting "Are you watching Clint Dempsey?"

But Jol said he feels the 29-year-old deserves more respect from the fans despite his recent rebellion.

"I don't want to hear the fans were chanting against him because he was a terrific player for us," Jol said. "He was the most productive midfield player in the whole league last season."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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