FA Cup: Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen praises Brede Hangeland and Maarten Stekelenburg

Meulensteen: Praise for returning Brede Hangeland and Maarten Stekelenburg

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Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen paid tribute to Brede Hangeland and Maarten Stekelenburg after the duo returned from injury in the 3-0 FA Cup victory over Norwich.

Darren Bent, Ashkan Dejagah and Steve Sidwell fired the Cottagers into the fourth round and a trip to Sheffield United with a comfortable success in their third round replay.

Fulham remain in relegation danger in the Premier League but Meulensteen feels the return of two key players will lift his squad.

"Having Brede back was a great boost," Meulensteen told the club's official website. "He's done very well after his surgery and trained very hard to get back.

"Sunderland was a bit too early but it was great to see him come through the 90 minutes tonight. Arsenal on Saturday is a different kettle of fish away from home but we'll review this game with Brede and go from there.

"We were very pleased to see Maarten back. It was a very unfortunate injury. It didn't look too bad at the time but we're glad to see him back; he was excellent."

Former Darlington defender Dan Burn partnered Hangeland in defence in his first Craven Cottage appearance having made his debut in the first game at Carrow Road after returning from a loan spell at Birmingham.

Meulensteen continued: "He's been a breath of fresh air. He did well in the away game and he's matured a lot at Birmingham City after a very good loan spell.

"Next to Brede, he looked very comfortable. It's great for him to have someone like Brede alongside him but he's a very bright boy. He's not afraid to speak his mind and it was a very positive performance."

Meulensteen was delighted to see his side get back to winning ways after their 4-1 home defeat by Sunderland at the weekend.

"We're doing a lot of things well," he added. "On Saturday against Sunderland we controlled the game and should have got our noses in front. But we didn't. We conceded from set-plays.

"We know our defensive record isn't good enough and we need to improve upon it. That's why we set out to get a clean sheet and for most of the game we were in pretty good defensive shape.

"If we keep clean sheets, we'll win games because we have enough quality so score goals. The FA Cup is fantastic competition. We're always trying to get the best possible result in every game.

"Nothing positive comes out of losing so we want to get into the habit of positive performances. This was a positive performance. We kept a clean sheet and we're into the next round of the cup."