Hughes keen on Fair Play European place

Fulham manager Mark Hughes insists his side would relish another shot at the Europa League if they are awarded one as a result of the Premier League Fair Play table.

UEFA revealed on Monday that Norway, England and Sweden would each be awarded an extra spot in the competition after the countries occupied the top three places in the continental Respect Fair Play Rankings, which rewards the countries with the best disciplinary records.

As things stand, Tottenham Hotspur are currently first in line to benefit as they currently top the Premier League’s own Fair Play table, but should they ultimately finish fifth in the league, the additional spot would then go to Fulham.

The chosen team would be required to enter the qualifying stages of the Europa League which occur well before the start of the domestic campaign, and both Spurs manager Harry Redknapp and Fulham defender Brede Hangeland have already gone on record to voice concerns over the tournament’s impact on pre-season preparations.

But while Hughes understands the logistical problems associated with playing in the tournament, he feels the opportunity to play in European competition would be too good to pass up.

Speaking to the club’s official website, the Welshman said: “We should embrace it, and if we’re in it, we’ll try our best to be successful. It’s a difficult competition to negotiate because of the time frame and the amount of games you have to play.

“If you want to progress you have to come back very early and start playing football almost immediately when you come back.

“If we get into the competition [Europa League] we’ll be delighted and we’ll try and progress as far as we can. I think we’re very close but a lot of things have to fall into place before we can say we’re playing in Europe next season, but if we are, we’ll give it a go.”

By Liam Twomey