DICKSON Etuhu has poured cold water over his boss' belief that Fulham are not far off a Uefa Cup place, writes Yann Tear.
Manchester United's Carling Cup win and the fact the FA Cup winners will almost certainly come from the top six, means seventh place will be good enough for next season's newly-named Europa Cup.
Boss Roy Hodgson refused to rule out the possibility of returning to Europe several seasons after his last excursions while coaching Norwegian side Viking Stavanger.
With five points to make up on West Ham, it is not an impossible ambition, even allowing for the midweek defeat to Blackburn.
But Etuhu is having none of it. "We don't want to speak about that. None of the boys talk about that," the Nigerian told the Gazette."We just want to get to the 40 points and we'll just take it from there and see what happens.
"That's not a bad mentality. We are just being realistic. Last year, we almost went down.
"It's only after we've got to that safety mark of 40-43 points that we can go out and express ourselves and start thinking about Europe. But right now, none of the boy are thinking about it."
The midfielder's caution is perhaps understandable coming in a week when the Whites were humbled 4-0 by Man United in the FA Cup - and considering they have not won away in 14 Premier League matches.
"We're not scoring goals away from home, which is why we're not winning them," Etuhu said. "But we're playing well enough and hopefully that first away win will come. We're hoping to break that duck at Bolton. We know we have to do that.
"We don't know why we have not managed it so far but it's not that we're just sitting back in away games. We express ourselves.
"You never see us just sit back and let teams play against us.
"We'll take a 1-0. Everyone would take that before a game, but we won't just defend. That's not how we play."
Games against United are no real barometre of a team's worth at the moment, because the quintuple chasers are too good for most teams right now.
Fulham were infinitely better than they were in the recent 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford in the Premier League - but still took a heavier pasting.
It does not auger well for the return league meeting at the Cottage next weekend.
"Any team in the league will tell you what they are like," Etuhu said of United.
"They came here and showed why they are the best team in the world and we can only take what we can from it.
"We had chances and didn't take them. They showed us how to finish. We started off well, then conceded a bad goal and from there, their confidence went up. But we're not going to let it get to us."
Etuhu's form continues to be a boon for Fulham in the wake of Jimmy Bullard's defection - even though, as the Nigerian points out himself, he is a different type of player with a defensive rather than offensive remit.
But he insists he is still far from back to his best as he feels his way back from a long-standing knee injury.
"I'm giving my all, but I'm still not fit," he said. "I think next year is when people will see the real me - after I've had a preseason. Right now, I just want to stay fit and get through games.
"I enjoy playing with Danny. I learn a lot off him as well. He's got a lot of experience. It works well. He's going forward more now as he did when he was at Liverpool because I'm more of a holding midfielder than Jimmy Bullard."