sport

Jol rues Dempsey departure

Martin Jol is still mourning the loss of Clint Dempsey and believes the American's goals saved Fulham in recent seasons.

The Cottagers are still adjusting to the loss of Dempsey, who joined Tottenham last August, and Mousa Dembele, who moved to White Hart Lane in the same month, according to Jol.

"Clint Dempsey always made the difference," said the Dutchman, who was focusing on Premier League survival ahead of Saturday's clash at Norwich.

"I feel if Clint Dempsey hadn't been here over the last three or four years, we could've ended up with a real problem.

"If you look at the points Fulham had because of him... Can you imagine the scenario if Clint hadn't been here over the last three or four years?

"Our strikers never used to score a lot of goals. Now I think we're fine, but we don't have Clint. If Clint had stayed I think we would've been in the top 10.

"We sold our top scorer and he (Dempsey) was the top scorer for a couple of years.

"Last year he scored more goals than any year before - and Dembele was my best player, arguably.

"We had to build a new team. If everyone is fit I still feel we're not far from the quality we had last year."

Jol expects his strikers to score, with Dimitar Berbatov carrying much of the weight of expectation this term, but Dempsey's goals from midfield were a bonus.

"I feel we will score more goals than before, but we need the important and vital goals," Jol added.

"Clint Dempsey scored all our winners last year."

Jol's expectations have changed since his team was restructured, although his side are near last season's points total at the same juncture.

He added: "Our target was first to be in the top 10 and now the target is to stay in the league. Although we had those players last year the difference is still two points."

Whether his comments hint at discontent over Fulham's transfer policy is subject to interpretation.

Perhaps they were designed to encourage his existing midfielders to improve their strike rate.

"You need players from midfield or from wide positions who can score goals," Jol added.

"In the first couple of months (Steve) Sidwell scored three or four, Damian Duff scored more than he used to do and that was good but after that it stopped."

Berbatov's hamstring problem could mean Fulham need goals from elsewhere in order to prevail against Norwich in a match where the losers could be dragged closer to the relegation zone.

Urby Emanuelson is in line to start if the Bulgarian is unable to prove his fitness.

"We have to talk to him (Berbatov) and the medical side to see if we start with him or bring him on," Jol said.

"When he had his injury eight days ago we thought it would cost a week so I'm confident he can make it."

Jol will face a friend in the opposing dugout in Norwich boss Chris Hughton.

The pair worked together at Tottenham and Jol anticipated Hughton would make a success of management.

"It's always about getting a chance and he got his chance," Jol added.

"He went to Newcastle and had the chance to be number one and he grabbed that. He did ever so well and got promotion back to the Premier League.

"He didn't have the best of starts at Norwich but he has certainly proved he is a perfect manager.

"He's a fantastic guy."