Hughes - I won't rush Johnson
Mark Hughes insists he will not rush Andy Johnson's return from injury to balance the loss of Bobby Zamora.
Last Updated: 16/09/10 6:43pm
Fulham boss Mark Hughes insists he will not rush Andy Johnson's return from injury to balance the loss of Bobby Zamora.
Hughes confirmed on Thursday Zamora will be out for at least five months after sustaining ankle ligament damage during last Saturday's 2-1 triumph over Wolves.
Zamora's injury has put fellow forward Johnson, who missed most of last season with a knee problem and is still three to four weeks away from a first-team comeback, under pressure to make a swift return.
But Hughes insists he will only play the Cottagers' record £10.5million signing if he is 100 per cent fit.
"We don't want to rush Andy. He's had experience of trying to get back too soon as a consequence of his enthusiasm to be playing," said Hughes.
"Unfortunately in the past he's come back too soon and that's cost him, preventing him from sustaining his fitness.
"We're not of the view that we must bring him back quickly even though we've lost Bobby.
"It's more important for Andy that he's clear in his mind that he's 100% when he does return.
"When Andy does come back he'll be in and around the first team for a significant amount of time and that will help us get through the loss of Bobby."
Johnson's two-year spell at Craven Cottage has been plagued by injury, with a combination of knee, shoulder and groin problems punctuating his time at the club.
Hughes is confident the player will not suffer long-term side-effects from his latest set back, but did sound caution with Johnson still some distance from match fitness.
The manager added: "Andy's been out for a long time but the medical staff have done a really good job on him and he's really positive.
"All the tests we've done show that he's either on a par or even surpassing some of the levels he was hitting before the injury.
"You can measure straight line runs and sprints off the mark, but we haven't tested him in a match situation yet."