LONDON // Mark Hughes insists that Mohamed Al Fayed had every right to deliver a dressing down to the Fulham squad after their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City last weekend.
The flamboyant Fulham owner vented his fury at the players at the club's training ground on Tuesday - their first day back following the humiliating defeat against Hughes's former employers.
Al Fayed has been no stranger to controversy since he bought the club in 1997.
He slammed Roy Hodgson, the previous manager, for joining Liverpool after guiding the team through arguably its most successful period in history and once said Fifa was run by "idiots".
But the Egyptian, who is a regular at Fulham games, was not meddling in first-team affairs according to Hughes, who hopes the ticking off will inspire his team to a much-needed victory against Birmingham City today.
"Yes, he came down to the training ground," Hughes said.
"He is obviously the chairman and takes a real active interest in the club. He's at all the home games and chats with the guys so it was good to see him.
"It was good that the players heard his views of the performance at the weekend.
"We had obviously already discussed what we felt about the game as a group of players and management so his input was noted and obviously we want to build on what we feel we have achieved this season."
Birmingham, seeking a first away win of the season, have no fresh injury concerns. Craig Gardner's ankle problem is improving although the midfielder is not ready to return at Craven Cottage.
Maik Taylor, the No 2 goalkeeper is also making good progress with his shoulder problem and is likely to be available for Wednesday's Carling Cup quarter-final with Aston Villa.
7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 6
Bolton v Blackpool
Bolton go into today’s match having lost only two league games all season and on the back of a 5-1 victory against Newcastle United. Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, will make one enforced change to his first XI as Marlon Harewood is sidelined with a torn hamstring. The striker suffered the setback in training this week. Richard Kingson, the Ghana goalkeeper, will retain his place between the posts as Matt Gilks remains out with a fractured knee-cap.
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Everton v West Brom
Peter Odemwingie, the West Brom striker, feels his team’s great start to the season is partly responsible for their lack of points recently. West Brom have only one point from their last five league games. “Every success has its effect, teams are not underrating us and it has become more difficult,” Odemwingie said. “I don’t think we are playing badly.” Everton are without Marouane Fellaini, the midfielder who is serving the last game of a three-match suspension.
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West Ham v Wigan Athletic
West Ham will check on the fitness of Scott Parker, their influential midfielder, ahead of the clash against Wigan at Upton Park. Parker has a virus while Kieron Dyer (hamstring) and Valon Behrami (hip) will also be assessed. Wigan must overcome the loss of Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz, who are both suspended after being sent off against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Gary Caldwell, their captain, has a chance of featuring after a thigh injury.
7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 8
Wolves v Sunderland
Wolves are five points adrift of safety in the Premier League but Kevin Doyle knows a victory could set them in the right direction. “Sometimes, it only takes one win and you can see the bright side again,” the striker, said. Sunderland are without first-choice central defensive partners Titus Bramble and Michael Turner with long-term injuries and Steve Bruce, the manager, is ready to gamble on the fitness off John Mensah, who dislocated his shoulder just three weeks ago.
7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 7