Coleman confident Bouba will be staying

April 6, 2006

Fulham manager Chris Coleman is confident Papa Bouba Diop is ready to sign a new contract.

Negotiations with Diop, whose current deal expires in the summer, are now at an advanced staged.

Coleman said: 'I would be amazed now if we don't keep Diop. It isn't signed but it's very close.'

The 28-year-old Senegal international, who has not started a match for Fulham for three months, will return to the squad for tomorrow's visit to Premiership bottom club Sunderland following a foot injury.

Coleman has been denied his services firstly by his participation in the African Nations Cup and then, after he came back for one second-half substitute appearance, by the injury he picked up when he returned to international duty the following week for a friendly.

Coleman said: 'It will be a little bit of a gamble because he hasn't played 90 minutes for us since the beginning of November.

'I would be surprised if he plays the 90 minutes. It could be he starts and doesn't finish or we might bring him on later in the game.

'We need the points and it's got to the stage where we having to take a bit of a chance on him even though he is lacking the match practice.'

The Fulham boss intends to open negotiations over a new contract with French midfielder Steed Malbranque once his side secure the two victories he believes they need to finally make relegation impossible.

Malbranque's contract has another year to run but the player is reportedly a target of other clubs.

'Malbranque hasn't signed but he has another year. He's the next one we will be concentrating on to secure his services,' added Coleman.