Gabriel Agbonlahor believes he and Ashley Young have become marked men but the Aston Villa striker is confident of overcoming the extra attention from opposition defenders.
Agbonlahor and Young have played major roles in Martin O’Neill’s side mounting a strong challenge for a European spot this season. But in recent games the duo have often found two or more defenders tracking them in an attempt to combat Villa’s potency in front of goal.
Fulham will be relieved Young is suspended for Sunday’s clash at Craven Cottage but they will still have to contend with the threat of seven-goal leading scorer Agbonlahor.
Agbonlahor said: "I feel I am getting not as much space as I used to personally but that is bound to happen when things go well for you and a few goals go in. You’ve got to try and work out a different way to break the opposition down.
"Ashley is getting two people marking him as well. That is why the opposition are sometimes playing only one up front so they have got more people in midfield to try and combat us.
"But I am confident we will be able to overcome that. We’ve just got to work on things in training. It was a challenge to do better this season after a good time last season and this is just another hurdle to negotiate."
Villa missed out on the chance to move into fourth spot in the Barclays Premier League after being held at home by Blackburn last weekend but Agbonlahor believes Europe is a genuine possibility.
He said: "Last season, if we had drawn at home with Blackburn we wouldn’t have been so down as we were after Saturday’s game.
"We would have viewed it as a good result for us - but it shows that we are on the up because everyone was so disappointed about the result.
"Can Villa finish in the top six? I think that is definitely possible if we carry on playing the way we are. We might get a few games where we are frustrated but I think we have got a great chance of achieving it.
"There are 14 games to go and we are well and truly in the shake-up. I think people have added to their squads and there are five or six teams in there with a chance"
O’Neill has to decide whether to give a debut to newcomer Wayne Routledge given the lack of first team action the midfielder had at Tottenham this season.
But the enforced absence of Young, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Blackburn, will increase his prospects of being involved.