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By ESPN Staff
May 4, 2006

Coleman braced for interest in key Fulham duo

Fulham boss Chris Coleman understands why Luis Boa Morte and Steed Malbranque are frequently linked with moves away from Craven Cottage.

Boa Morte signed a new five-year contract last September while Malbranque is currently negotiating fresh terms with his existing deal set to expire next summer.

Both players are sure to attract interest when the transfer window reopens and although the attention is frustrating, Coleman knows it comes with the territory.

'Boa and Steed are excellent players and it's no shock they're mentioned with moves to big clubs,' he said.

'The fact is they're quality players so of course other clubs will want them.

'Both players have the capacity to turn a match on its head and they did that against Wigan recently.

'We're fortunate to have them and we know that.'

Boa Morte and Malbranque will spearhead Fulham's target of improving on last season's 13th place finish in the Barclays Premiership when they meet relegated Sunderland tonight.

Sunderland and Middlesbrough provide their last opposition and with Fulham already sat in 13th, two more wins would guarantee an improvement on last term.

The Black Cats were expected to provide Fulham with their best chance of clinching a first away win of the season, but last Saturday's 2-1 victory over Manchester City saw to that.

'Everybody saw the spirit when we went a goal behind. The boys stayed together and dug us out,' assistant boss Steve Kean told the club's official website.

'We actually played pretty well in the first half and could have scored the goal of the season had Liam Rosenior's early effort gone in. We're absolutely delighted to get the away win.

'Steed was causing them all sorts of problems, playing in the little pocket just off the right wing.

'But it wasn't just Steed, everybody, to a man, produced a fantastic work ethic and that's what it takes to get an away win.

'We can finish on 51 points and that would be a great achievement. We can now look forward to going up to Sunderland, finishing with Middlesbrough and picking up even more points.'

Midfielder Michael Brown returns tonight after completing his three-match suspension but Zat Knight could be out following a clash of heads against City.