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Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 19:14 UK

Hodgson feels final-day pressure

Hodgson has guided Fulham out of the relegation zone

Roy Hodgson believes Fulham's premature celebrations at Craven Cottage last week may damage his side's preparations for Sunday's crunch game at Portsmouth.

Hodgson joined chairman Mohamed Al Fayed and the team on a lap of honour after the 2-0 win over Birmingham.

But defeat at Fratton Park on Sunday could yet result in relegation.

"That reception is the biggest pressure that has been put upon us. We realised then, if we hadn't already, that it is so important to people," said Hodgson.

"If anything, it worried me because I don't think we deserved it. I thought it was magnificent of the fans to stay behind and give us that reception to make us feel good.

606: DEBATE

"But we can still slip into the Championship and there's still a big risk of that happening."

Fulham enter the final round of Premier League matches a place above the relegation zone on goal difference, but needing only to match Reading's result against Derby to maintain their top-flight status.

Barring a huge Reading win, victory against Pompey will complete a remarkable escape from the drop zone.

Premier League survival looked an unrealistic target four weeks ago, with Fulham six points behind Birmingham, who were then 17th, with only five games left.

But after winning three of their last four matches, the fate of Hodgson's men is now in their own hands.

We have got one game to achieve our ambition this year

Reading boss Steve Coppell
Anything less than victory at Fratton Park however would leave Reading as favourites to beat the drop, with Birmingham, a point further adrift, hoping to beat Blackburn and for Fulham and Reading to both lose.

After finishing a superb eighth in 2007, the Royals have endured a miserable second campaign and are winless in their last six games.

But manager Steve Coppell is confident his side can avoid dropping back into the Championship after being promoted as champions two seasons ago.

"We have got to win and choose an attacking team," he said. "I have had faith in them, that still remains.

"We have got one game to achieve our ambition this year. If we do it, what a day it will be."


see also
Portsmouth v Fulham
08 May 08 |  Premier League
Derby v Reading
08 May 08 |  Premier League
Fulham 2-0 Birmingham
03 May 08 |  Premier League
Man City 2-3 Fulham
26 Apr 08 |  Premier League
McLeish ready for day of destiny
03 May 08 |  Premier League