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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 23, 2009

Fulham boss Hodgson defends Bullard sale

Roy Hodgson has revealed that Jimmy Bullard's contract demands left Fulham with no option but to sell the England squad midfielder to Hull City.

Bullard on Friday joined the Premier League newcomers for a fee believed to be £5m, signing a four-and-a-half-year contract.

Fulham were reluctant to offload the 30-year-old, who had 18 months left on his existing deal, but refused to cave in to his wage demands.

And having doubled their money on the player signed from Wigan for £2.5m in May 2006, Hodgson admitted the decision was driven by economics.

''It's too easy for fans to say the club should have done more to keep Jimmy,'' he said.

''People at the top of the club have to make nuanced decisions.

''They have to look at the wider picture every time there are wage demands or new contract demands.

''We were very fair when it came to Jimmy and we did what we thought was right but we accepted the road he wanted to go down was not where we wanted to go.

''It wasn't just about his wage demands, it was about the length of contract as well. He wanted a long-term contract.

''I was rather hoping there wouldn't be anyone else out there who would give it to him either.

''Hull came up with the package he was looking for. It's up to us to prove we can be a good team without him.''

Bullard, who suffered a career-threatening knee injury that kept him out for 16 months just four matches into his Fulham career, was a popular figure at Craven Cottage.

Fans appreciated his all-action style while team-mates often spoke of his influence in the dressing room, and he was called into the England squad, but Hodgson insisted the club would cope with his departure.

''Cult heroes tend to come and go these days. These days there are panic reactions to players,'' he said.

''People say clubs can't exist without certain players.

''But with all due respect to Jimmy he only played the one full year at the club because of injury.

''I understand the fans aren't happy that a player they appreciate is leaving the club.

''They'll have to understand we're not happy about it either, but for the good of the club the right decision was made.

''Had we conceded to his wage demands it would have created problems for us.''

Bullard's imminent departure overshadowed preparations for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round trip to Kettering.

Blue Square Premier outfit Kettering are the lowest-placed side still left in the competition and Hodgson is aware that the tie has all the hallmarks of a potential upset.

''It's a great chance for us to get into the last 16 and a great chance for them to produce one of the FA Cup's great shocks,'' he said.

''They could produce a giant-killing act that will live in the annals for a long time. That really sets the scene.

''We know it will be a difficult game and have had them watched on four or five occasions, so we know as much about them as we can know.''

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