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Soccer -Fulham's Meulensteen banks on new boys to save season

Reuters

By Joshua Franklin

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Fulham emerged from a busy January transfer window with a depressing 3-0 home defeat by Southampton on Saturday that left them bottom of the Premier League.

Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen brought in seven new players and let eight go, but it was the same old result for his team as they lost their fourth consecutive league game.

Only two new additions, Lewis Holtby and William Kvist, were handed their debuts and on-loan forward Clint Dempsey was sent on as a substitute as Fulham were sunk by three second-half goals.

Meulensteen was asked after the game if his new signings were good enough to keep Fulham in the top flight.

"I certainly hope so, but that's only a question we can answer when we're going to have a period behind us where we can really asses when we have the new faces playing for us," he told a news conference.

"It's a bit early to say but I've got big hopes for that."

Fulham's deadline-day recruits, Kostas Mitroglou, John Heitinga, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe, watched on as the visitors' England trio of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodgriguez grabbed a goal each.

Meulensteen will hope that Greek striker Mitroglou, who joined for a reported club record fee of 11 million pounds ($18.1 million) from Olympiakos, can replicate the scintillating form of the Southampton forwards who tore his defence apart.

Lambert, in particular, impressed as the visitors eased to victory, setting up both his compatriots either side of a typically powerful finish.

Lallana also looked threatening in a central attacking role on his 250th Southampton appearance in front of watching England coach Roy Hodgson.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino said the trio did their prospects of making England's World Cup squad in Brazil this year no harm.

"I'm very happy with the three goals - I liked them all and each was different in its own way. It's a performance I was proud of," Pochettino told reporters.

"It's very important that the three strikers today got on the scoring sheet and that's always going to increase their chances of actually making it to Brazil."

($1 = 0.6085 British pounds) (Writing by Sam Holden, editing by Ed Osmond)

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