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By ESPN Staff
Dec 31, 2009

Roy Hodgson targets loan deal for Roma striker Okaka

Roy Hodgson has revealed that Fulham are exploring the possibility of signing Roma striker Stefano Okaka on loan.

Okaka, 20, started both of this season's Europa League matches between the clubs and scored the winner at the Stadio Olimpico in early November.

Hodgson was sufficiently impressed to look into taking the Italian Under-20 international to Craven Cottage but faces competition from Portsmouth. Roma are willing to allow Okaka to depart after completing the loan signing of Luca Toni from Bayern Munich.

"Okaka is a possibility for us. We're looking into it and have shown an interest,'' said Hodgson. "How far we go down that road will depend on other things like whether he wants to come on loan to England. The finances of the situation will also be important.

"Okaka has got quality and the fact it's a loan is also advantageous because he's a young player and largely untried. We're happy with our striking options but we would like to have some cover and someone who can put pressure on the guys we have. Okaka seems to be that type of player but a lot of water must pass under the bridge before he pulls on a Fulham shirt.''

Hodgson has ruled out signing a replacement for the injured John Pantsil, who could be out for the rest of the season.

The popular Ghana right-back suffered knee ligament damage in the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea on Monday and will definitely miss the African Nations Cup. Whether he requires surgery will determine if he plays again this term, with the most dire prognosis threatening his participation at the World Cup.

"We won't know how long John will be out for until Saturday when our specialist returns,'' said Hodgson. "We want him to have a look at John before we make any decisions. The scan shows there is damage to the posterior cruciate ligament.

"We're talking about a period of rehabilitation of eight to 12 weeks, whatever happens. It could be that the damage is sufficiently bad that he might require an operation. If that's the case he'll be out for another four to six weeks.

"It's really bad news for us and for John as well because he was voted Ghana player of year and has been playing very well. Now he's looking ahead to a long period of rehabilitation.''

Meanwhile, Fulham have confirmed that striker Eddie Johnson has joined Greek side Aris FC on loan until June 30. Johnson, 25. has made two substitute appearances in the Premier League this season.

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