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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 21, 2006

Coleman justifies naming weakened team

Chris Coleman refused to blame his team selection for Fulham's Carling Cup humiliation.

The Cottagers were sent crashing out of the competition at the first hurdle by League Two leaders Wycombe who clinched a famous 2-1 victory.

Jermaine Easter and Tommy Mooney gave Wanderers a two-goal interval advantage which Fulham failed to overhaul amid a glut of wasted chances.

Fulham's team selection inevitably attracted criticism after the defeat, with few of the line-up likely to be in action against Chelsea on Saturday.

But Coleman - who has been contending with a lengthy injury list - defended his decision to rest several senior players by insisting the side was still strong enough to beat Wycombe.

'The team we put out on the pitch had seven internationals. We're not happy at going out and we don't want to lose any game,' he said.

'We've rested a lot of players because we had to but the team we put on the pitch was good enough to win the game. We didn't (win) because of our first-half performance.'

Fulham have lost five midfielders to injury and Coleman is praying that the influential Papa Bouba Diop returns from his thigh problem in time to face Jose Mourinho's side.

'Before we start thinking about a team for Chelsea we have to see what bodies are available,' he said.

'We're missing a lot of key players and it's going to be a battle for us. If we were running out with our strongest side it would be hard enough.

'But with four or five key players out you know you'll be up against it. Papa Bouba has a 70-30 chance of making it.'

Coleman's mind immediately turned to Chelsea after the Carling Cup result but Wycombe boss Paul Lambert will allow his thoughts to linger over events at Craven Cottage for a little longer.

Wanderers fully deserved their passage into the third round and Lambert was full of pride for his players.

'I thought we had a chance. My lads may only be in League Two but they're still top players,' he said.

'Fulham are a Premiership team with a superb stadium but the lads stepped up to the plate.

'Fulham had some big names in the team even if they rested a few. But it doesn't matter who they picked - it's still a massive result for us.

'Half-time came as a reprieve for us. We started slowly and they scored their goal, putting us under pressure.

'But we stopped the pressure and found our feet again.'