Brede Hangeland says Bobby Zamora’s return to lead the Fulham line will be a “massive boost” as the Whites look to cement their place in the top half of the Premier League table.
England striker Zamora made a long-awaited appearance at Craven Cottage on Sunday – his first in a Fulham shirt since picking up a leg injury in a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last September.
The 30-year-old replaced Zoltan Gera after 67 minutes in the disappointing 1-0 FA Cup Fifth Round defeat to Bolton Wanderers with his cameo providing a welcome distraction from a frustrating afternoon of football.
Last season’s top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions is undoubtedly a key player for the Whites and team-mate Hangeland now predicts a more prosperous period for Zamora.
“It was great to have him [Zamora] back and everyone knows how important he is to the team,” Hangeland told fulhamfc.com. “He’s been out for five months, which is a long time - so it was a big moment for him. I thought he did really well and I’m sure he will be pleased to be back in action again, despite the outcome of the result.
“He looked focused and there weren’t any signs that he had been away for the time he had. Sometimes when a player makes a comeback from a long injury he can be a little cautious, and rightly so. But Bobby didn’t have that.
“He won some important challenges, held the ball up well and got into a couple of dangerous positions. He’s had a difficult time, but he can put that all behind him now and enjoy what will hopefully be a better time.”
Zamora brought the crowd to its feet with one late shot on the turn that cleared the crossbar and another half-chance that edged narrowly wide of the Bolton goal.
Unfortunately, Fulham could not turn their second-half possession into goals and as a result slipped to what was just their second defeat in 10 games and their first loss at Craven Cottage in seven.
“We have been on a good run of form lately, so this was a disappointing result for us,” added Hangeland. “We have a lot of football to play in the league, and Bobby’s return is a massive boost for us in terms helping to achieve our goal of finishing in the top half of the table.
“You want to have your best players fit and firing, and Bobby is one of them. I’m sure he will be determined to play his part throughout the remainder of the season. It’s exciting to have him in contention again and his goals and general play will be important. We’re out of the Cup, so the league is our priority now.”