Curbishley expects better at Fulham

Alan Curbishley is looking forward to getting back in action against Fulham on Saturday afternoon knowing full well that his team could propel themselves back into European contention with victory.

Despite only taking one point from Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City in the previous two games, victory on Saturday would move the club up to ninth and potentially within four points of fifth place. There is also the benefit of no game last weekend which should lead to his players feeling fresh and revitalised - although the manager is aware of the threat posed by a Fulham team fighting for survival.

"We are disappointed with the last two results and performances. We have had a little bit of a break. I give the players four days off over the weekend to recharge their batteries because most of the players that will be playing on Saturday have been playing all the games."

At Craven Cottage, Curbishley is looking to his midfielders and attackers to build on the defensive work shown throughout the team. "My big complaint after the Birmingham game to the players was that when we were not winning with 25 minutes to go a bit of panic set in. It was one-touch and bang. And that wasn't us compared to previous games and the way we have been trying to do it.

"We are looking forward to Saturday but we know that just like anywhere in the Premier League this is just as tough and they have picked up recently. A new manager has gone in so we know it is going to be a tough game. We know what they are going through as last year we were in a very similar position. We know what they are up against."

Describing his opposite number Roy Hodgson as possessing a "great wealth of experience," Curbishley added: "He has come in and steadied the ship and now he needs to pick those results up." Of Fulham's chances of avoiding relegation, Curbishley was honest in his assessment that they need to "win another six games" to pull themselves clear of trouble before 11 May. "It just shows you that no matter how much money you spend, how tough it all is," he added.

Curbishley was clear that his own side would be just as up for the challenge as Fulham, despite the security of a mid-table position. "I don't want the season to drift," he said. "We have spoken about that. We want to get as many points as we can and finish as high up the table as we can. Going into the last two games we could see the teams above us and really we have got to get something at Fulham to keep in sight of the teams above us."

On whether a European spot could be achieved, he added: "There is all sorts of combinations and things but you have got to be finishing in the top seven to have any real shout. We have seen we have got a tough March. It is a lot of games but who knows? We put an incredible run together last year and we have got to put some wins together out of these next 13 games."