Cottagers and Reds games to go ahead

FULHAM and Liverpool have been told their Europa League ties in Germany and Spain will go ahead this week despite continuing travel chaos caused by volcanic ash.

Roy Hodgson’s Fulham are scheduled to face Hamburg in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday, while Liverpool are expected to visit Atletico Madrid on the same day.

Both teams are waiting anxiously to see whether flight restrictions will be lifted in time for them to travel by plane, or whether they will have to undertake arduous journeys by road.

Liverpool would face the most daunting prospect: their 1,300-mile trip to the Spanish capital would take more than 20 hours by coach. Fulham would need almost 10 hours to drive to Hamburg, some 570 miles away.

Governing body Uefa said: “It is planned that both games will go ahead as normal. However, with the majority of airspace over Europe still closed and other forms of transport limited or fully booked, Uefa are in close contact with both English clubs on the travel options available.”

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson warned that only a minority of the 2,500 fans planning to follow them would be able to make it to Hamburg if the game goes ahead as planned. “It would be a real shame,” he said. “For 30 or 40 people you might find train seats but for the 2,500 who have been really looking forward to this game then it’s different.”