Pre-season is getting closer for a Fulham team preparing for the Premier League for the first time in four years, and so far we have had no incomings at the club. It is far too early to hit the panic button, but I’m sure many fans have been wondering who the first player through the door will be, and when it is going to happen. In my last ‘Strengthening Season’ article I focused on the goalkeepers, but this time it is the turn of the defence to go under the microscope. The point of these articles isn’t to speculate on the names who may or may not be brought into the club, but is to assess what shape the squad is in already. What players already in our ranks should be involved in our Premier League campaign?

The thing that scares me about Fulham’s squad right now is just how thin we are on the ground. Right through the squad we have massive gaps which will need to be addressed before we kick off against Crystal Palace. Fulham have relied heavily on loans in the past number of seasons but the problem with this is that when it comes to the end of the season, we all of a sudden realise that we don’t have an awful lot of players who are actually ours! Ryan Fredericks left for West Ham quite early on in the summer, so we now actually only have four first team defenders in the squad. Player of the Season Tim Ream, play-off semi-final hero Denis Odoi, Janurary buy Cyrus Christie and flop Marcelo Djalo. I’m stating the obvious when I say that this needs addressed.

Who of these four can make a difference next season? Who should be kept for numbers and squad rotation? And who should be saying goodbye?

Tim Ream-

Fulham’s Player of the Season and probably one of the most under-rated Championship players last season. Despite a rocky first season on the banks of the Thames, Ream became the first name on the team sheet this season past. I’m pretty sure that he won every single header in the Play-off Final against Aston Villa, and he is the sort of leader that you need in the centre of defence. I 100% expect him be starting against Crystal Palace bar injury. He has already played in the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers back in 2012, and with International experience dating back to 2010, we shouldn’t worry about him being able to perform in one of the best leagues in the world.

Denis Odoi-

This is where things get a bit trickier. Odoi made the second centre back position his own after Tomas Kalas got injured, and he eneded up being a better fit than the Chelsea loanee in Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham. We is good with the ball at his feet and enjoys a run forward, but I feel that his lack of height would be exploited in the Premier League. I absolutely think that Odoi should stay in and around the squad, but we need a bigger, stronger centre back to come in and partner Ream. I would be concerned if we had no choice but to have an Odoi-Ream centre back pairing come the start of the season.

Cyrus Christie-

The Irishman looks to be a ready made replacement for Fredericks and was brought in with the knowledge that Fredericks would be off. He is quick, and loves getting forward- all the things that Slav wants in his full backs. I hope he is better defensively than Fredericks was though, because I think that he was rather suspect in that department! In the Premier League we aren’t going to get to fly forward anywhere near as much as we did in the Championship so we need our defenders to be disciplined. Christie may cut it, but I think we need more cover in that position and I would rather go for someone who we know can make the step up to the Premier League and have Christie as a back up.

Marcelo Djalo-

The Spanish defender made just four appearances for Fulham last season, with his two starts coming in the League Cup. He was barely Championship standard and won’t be playing in the Premier League for us.

So there we have it. We have one player in our ranks who I reckon is a starter and two who could be in and around the squad for the season but who I wouldn’t really want to have to rely on heavily. I have no doubt that players will be brought in in the coming weeks and I’m confident that between Tony Khan and Slavisa Jokanovic the right people can be found.

#COYW

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Fulham are among a number of clubs who are interested in signing Fernando Forestieri, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The Italian forward looks set to leave Hillsborough this summer as Sheffield Wednesday prepare to offload their highest earners and some prized assets in order to finance another tilt at promotion. The 28 year-old was heavily linked with a move to Craven Cottage at the start of last season and Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic is acutely aware of his talents having had the mercurial front man in the Watford side he guided to promotion in 2014-15.

After leaving Vicarage Road, Forestieri enjoyed two stellar seasons with Wednesday. He scored 15 goals in 39 appearances in his first year at Hillsborough, following that up with 12 in 38 games in 2016/2017. Fitness and other issues meant he only managed five goals in 11 appearances last term and, with a host of forwards on the books in the blue half of the Steel city, Wednesday appear ready to allow him to leave. Reports over the past week have linked Forestieri with moves to a number of Championship clubs, including recently relegated Stoke City and Middlesbrough.

Fulham have been rumoured to hold a long-term interest in signing the former Italian youth international, reportedly seeing a £12m bid for Forestieri rejected last August. The 5ft 8in forward was believed to unsettled in Yorkshire after a training ground bust-up with Sam Winnall. Jokanovic has been attempting to strengthen Fulham’s forward line in the weeks following their play-off final win over Aston Villa at Wembley. The Whites have been quoted a fee of £20m to secure the permanent transfer of Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle and seen an £8m offer for Swansea forward Jordan Ayew rejected by the Welsh club.

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Fulham close to completing Krul swoop

June 17, 2018

Tweet Fulham are hopeful of signing Tim Krul from Brighton and Hove Albion on a free transfer, say the Sun on Sunday. The Londoners have made an audacious bid to sign the Dutch goalkeeper on a Bosman and Krul is ready to reject Brighton’s offer of a new deal to move to Craven Cottage and […]

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Fulham chasing Augustinsson

June 16, 2018

Tweet Fulham want to swoop for Werder Bremen defender Ludwig Augustinsson over the coming weeks, according to a Daily Mirror report. The Whites’ pursuit of the Swedish left-back is held up by the fact that Augustinsson is currently on World Cup duty in Russia and is delaying a decision on his future until he reports […]

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Luca Ashby-Hammond named in Under-17 Euro team of tournament

June 16, 2018

Tweet Fulham goalkeeper Luca Ashby-Hammond has been named in the UEFA team of the European Under-17 championships after impressing for England during the tournament. Ashby-Hammond, who was picked out of six shortlisted goalkeepers as the tournament’s leading custodian by UEFA’s panel of experts, conceded just two goals in five games as England reached the semi-finals […]

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Fulham join race for Le Marchand

June 16, 2018

Tweet Fulham are keen on signing Nice defender Maxime Le Marchand, according to reports from France. The 28 year-old centre back, who can also operate on the left side of the back four and as a defensive midfielder, is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Riviera and sources close to Le […]

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Fulham eyeing move for Krychowiak

June 16, 2018

Tweet Fulham are interested in offering a Premier League lifeline to Paris Saint Germain midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, according to reports from France this afternoon. The Polish international, who spent last season on loan with West Bromwich Albion, had hoped to try and earn a place in the PSG first-team squad for the forthcoming season but […]

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Fulham linked with Zulj

June 16, 2018

Tweet Fulham are considering a move for Austrian midfielder Peter Zulj, according to reports in the German press this weekend. The Sturm Graz midfielder enjoyed an outstanding season, scoring ten goals and adding nineteen assists in his 42 appearances for the Black and Whites, who qualified for the Champions’ League after finishing as runners-up behind […]

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Fulham ready to mount £12m Swift bid

June 15, 2018

Tweet Fulham are preparing a £12m move for Reading midfielder John Swift, according to a report in the Reading Chronicle. The Whites could offer the talented playmaker a move back to west London, with Swift having been a leading member of the Chelsea academy before signing for the Royals in July 2016. Swift, who also […]

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Newcastle want £20m for Mitrovic

June 14, 2018

Tweet Newcastle United have told Fulham they are willing to sell striker Aleksandar Mitrovic this summer – but only if the Whites match their £20m asking price. A Sky Sports report this afternoon discloses that Newcastle are confident that Mitrovic’s recent form for both club and country – and the possibility that he could shine […]

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