Fulham suffered an unexpected 3-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s Stadium on the final day of the Championship season. The Cottagers find themselves in the playoffs now and have to give their best shot to get promoted to the Premier League.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s men are due to face Derby County on Friday at the Pride Park Stadium in the first leg of the playoffs. It goes without saying that the fixture promises to be a crunch one at the onset as both the sides are well balanced and have had a decent season in the English second tier.
Fulham Team News
Matt Targett is a slight concern for the London based outfit. He limped off during his side’s 2-1 win over Sunderland. Meanwhile, Neeskens Kebano and Sheyi Ojo are also doubtful for the trip to the Pride Park Stadium
Here is how we expect Jokanovic to roll out his starting line-up against Gary Rowett’s men.
Marcus Bettinelli had a forgettable outing against the Blues despite making some very good saves. The 25-year-old shot-stopper has collected 12 clean sheets from 24 appearances, making 2.17 saves per game on an average, and is set to be placed between the sticks once again.
Denis Odoi and Tim Ream are expected to be placed in the central defence. Both of them haven’t been at their best lately but considering the gravity of the upcoming tie, they must step up and leave no stone unturned to save the blushes of their employers.
Targett has had some time to recover and despite the concerns surrounding him, he might be back in shape for the upcoming clash. While he is likely to operate from the left-back slot, Ryan Fredericks deserves to get the nod to start from the right-back position.
With 5 goals and 5 assists to his name, Tom Cairney has been one of the best players for Fulham this season and he is anticipated to start from the middle of the park yet again. His ability to manoeuvre precise passes and vision makes him an appealing commodity for his side.
He is set to be stationed alongside Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johansen. McDonald and Johansen were timorous against Birmingham City and they need to start fresh against Rowett’s men. The trio will be keen to control the tempo of the game.
Up top, we expect Aleksandar Mitrovic to be stationed. Mitrovic has been a productive asset for Fulham after his loan move from Newcastle United and certainly deserves to get the green light to lead the line. While Lucas Piazon is set to start from the right-wing, Ryan Sessegnon will look to terrorize the Derby County defence from the left flank.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored & Squawka