Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson: League takes priority

West Brom manager Roy Hodgson has defended his decision to make sweeping changes for Saturday's FA Cup clash with Norwich ahead of two Barclays Premier League games in the space of 72 hours.

Hodgson admitted seven players who were left out of the 2-1 home defeat against the Canaries would have played had it been a league fixture. But he is adamant top-flight survival is of paramount importance as the Baggies prepare to visit his former club Fulham on Wednesday and host Swansea at the weekend.

Hodgson said: "We all have taken the cup seriously here and we tried to do our very best against Norwich."

He added: "But there's no doubt that having a cup run and perhaps getting beaten in a semi-final, or a sixth round - as happened to me at Fulham - doesn't help a great deal.

"When people look back at my time at Fulham, they don't remember the two quarter-finals and the replay that one of them went to - they remember where we finished in the league."

"We know where our priorities lie and there's no doubt that if Saturday's game had been in the league, seven of the players who didn't play would have played.

"But I preferred to keep them up my sleeve because we've got the two very important league games coming up everyone knows about.

"I'm hoping that by sparing them a game at the weekend means they will be fit to play the two matches we've got to come at Fulham and against Swansea."


From Belfast Telegraph