Fulham aim to extend Schwarzer's stay
© AFP

Mark Schwarzer's outstanding form for Fulham this season has been rewarded by the club opening talks on a new contract that will extend his stay at Craven Cottage beyond next year.

Schwarzer, who has another season left on his current deal, revealed that preliminary discussions have already taken place ahead of Sunday's final game of the season, against Everton, which could see Roy Hodgson's side clinch a place in Europe for next season.

"There's been a few discussions," the 36-year-old Australian said. "And I feel as good, if not better, than when I first signed for Fulham. At this stage in my career, if the manager backs you and you continue to play week in, week out, then why not continue to play for as long as possible?"

At this stage in my career, if the manager backs you and you continue to play week in, week out, then why not continue to play for as long as possible?
Mark Schwarzer

Schwarzer was recruited as a free transfer from Middlesbrough last summer and puts the club's consistency down to the steadying influence of the much-travelled Hodgson. "He's calm and modest, and that filters down to the players, but he makes us conscious about keeping our heads down and concentrating right to the end of every game," Schwarzer said.

Given their goal difference, Fulham realistically only need a point against Everton on Sunday to qualify for the Europa League, which is to replace the current UEFA Cup. "A lot has been said about Everton taking it easy before they play the FA Cup final the following week but the flip side is they want to finish fifth," Schwarzer said.

"They've been fighting for that place and there are financial rewards both for the club and players personally - so they're not going to give us an easy game."