Roy Hodgson insisted he was right to field a much-changed side against Everton as Fulham prepare for Thursday’s crunch Europa League clash with Hamburg.

The Cottagers will go into their semi-final, second leg showdown with everything to play for, having held the German side to a 0-0 draw last week.

And after resting eight regulars for Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to the Toffees, Hodgson was in no mood to apologise.

He said: “I think I should be entitled to change the line-up, especially with the situation we find ourselves in.

“The game on Thursday is obviously a much bigger priority than the game at Everton.

“But to be honest, I am not at all convinced that the 11 players who started in Hamburg would have given as good an account as we did.”

Fulham took an early lead through Erik Nevland, before the hosts struck back through a Chris Smalling own-goal and an injury-time Mikel Arteta penalty.

There was even talk of the £25,000 fine dished out to Wolves for fielding a weakened team being applied to the London side, but Hodgson brushed that talk aside.

He added: “We are going into very dangerous ground if the Premier League starts deciding whether a team is strong enough or not.

“I would be amazed if, after the performance we have given against a strong Everton team, whether people would have the temerity to discuss our team selection.

“The Premier League will make the decisions it wants to make, all I can do is answer the question on whether we have a case to answer for letting them down or favouring the opponents by fielding a weaker team.

"I can stand here quite happily knowing that we haven't done that.”

Fulham’s next three matches: Apr 29 Hamburg (EL, h), May 2 West Ham United (h), 5 Stoke City (h)