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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Fulham boss Hodgson targets success in FA Cup

Roy Hodgson has warned that his Fulham side will not lay down and die when they face Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final.

The Cottagers booked their March 7 meeting with the Premier League leaders with a 2-1 defeat of Championship side Swansea and, although Hodgson concedes his team head into the match as underdogs, he refuses to rule out a shock result.

Recent form does not augur well for Hodgson, whose side were outclassed as United romped to a 3-0 victory when the sides met earlier this month.

But after seeing Clint Dempsey and the rejuvenated Bobby Zamora score the goals that overturned Swansea in the fifth round replay at Craven Cottage, he is ready to think big.

"Manchester United, yes, that's a nice bonus, it will be nice to see Sir Alex again,'' said Hodgson with a smile.

"It's important for Fulham to be in the quarter-finals, it's been a long while since we have been there. Okay, we've got Manchester United and I suppose people will envisage our demise, but we're not dead yet. ''We've got the game still to play so who knows?

"Of course we can beat them. We can beat Real Madrid, we can beat Barcelona, we can beat any team you care to mention.

"But if you're asking are the odds on us winning better than the odds on them winning then I think the answer is pretty obviously no. But yes, we can beat them even if they are clear favourites.

"They've played a lot of games this season, they have a lot of things on their mind and maybe we won't be meeting the Manchester United we met the last time.''

He added: "How they played against us that night was how we played against Swansea really.

"Our aggression, our moving of the ball, our goal threat; that was as good as I have seen us really.''

Hodgson was full of praise for the club's followers, who turned out in force for the second time in three days following Sunday's 2-0 win over West Brom and is pleased he can reward them with a glamour fixture in the last eight.

"What's most important is that it is a very nice cup tie for our fans,'' he said.

"I thought they were superb from the start against Swansea and they really got caught up in the cup day atmosphere. Their support was very, very good and I got the impression they were happy with that they saw.

"It's nice that we've given them a little bit of a bonus with a top match against Manchester United as reward for their support.''

Fulham's gruelling schedule dominated much of the pre-match build-up to yesterday's replay, but Swansea boss Roberto Martinez was quick to point out they were not the only ones being pushed to the limit.

"If you look at our fixture list in the Championship it's a little bit crazy,'' he said. "We have to play something like 11 games in 35 days, which is unbelievable.

"We are pretty thin and I could tell you a long list of players we are missing. When you have a fixture list like this you need everyone.

"But I'm proud of the way we took to the pitch, we went face to face against a very good Fulham side and we didn't come to defend or to sneak something on the counter.

"In fact, over 180 minutes I think we probably deserved to go through.''


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