Fulham head to Humberside for their final fixture of 2017 looking to record their third league win in a row for the first time since April. Confidence in the camp will be high after Slavisa Jokanovic’s produced their most complete performance of the campaign when they completely outclassed Cardiff City on Boxing Day. A few weeks ago this might have been considered an away banker, but Hull have improved dramatically under new boss Nigel Adkins and will be difficult to break down at the KCOM Stadium this afternoon.
City might have struggled to find the net since putting three past Brentford earlier this month, but their goalscoring worries should be eased by the return of top scorer Jarrod Bowen, who found the net at Craven Cottage earlier this season. The Welsh winger, who has ten goals to his name already in an outstanding breakthrough season, has been restricted to appearances as a substitute in Hull’s last three games but is now fully fit after shaking off ankle and knee niggles.
Frazier Campbell, a regular scorer against Fulham in the past, and Evandro are in also contention for a return to action having resumed training, but Adkins will take a safety first approach to managing the pair’s fitness with an eye on the New Year’s Day trip to Bolton. City will hand late fitness tests to Polish winger Kamil Grosicki, who has been struggling with an ankle injury, and midfielder Jon Toral, who is nursing a series of knocks after a bruising battle with Derby.
Adkins has made City tough to beat since being installed as the replacement for Leonid Slutsky. Hull could count themselves highly unfortunate to only collect a single point from their two Christmas fixtures. The Tigers had fifteen shots on target at Elland Road, but left Leeds empty-handed after Allan McGregor’s dreadful mistake handed Pablo Hernandez a winner. City totally dominated Derby, on a run of four straight wins, on Tuesday but couldn’t find a winner.
Adkins will target this game as an opportunity to be more clinical in the final third and Fulham certainly aren’t immune from a bout of shocking defending. The Whites also have a shocking record at the KCOM Stadium – having never won at City’s new ground. Hull have won the last four meetings between the sides here, including the 6-0 thrashing they handed Rene Meulensteen’s men in December 2013. Fulham’s last win at Hull came in the Micky Adams’ promotion season some 21 years ago – thanks to goals from Darren Freeman, Paul Watson and Mike Conroy. Former Tigers midfielder Tom Cairney will be keen to put that right today.
The style and fluidity of Fulham’s movement against Cardiff contrasted starkly with the flat display up at Sunderland earlier this month and Jokanovic will hope the poor performance we saw in the north east is now a thing of the past. The pace of Floyd Ayite, Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo was blistering at times – but most importantly they picked the right option in the box.
With the return of Lucas Piazon and Aboubakar Kamara’s recovery from illness, Jokanovic has a fully fit squad to choose from this afternoon. It would be a surprise were he to shuffle his pack too greatly.
MY FULHAM XI: Bettinelli; Fredericks, Odoi, Kalas, Ream; McDonald, Johansen, Cairney; Ojo, R. Sessegnon, Ayite. Subs: Button, Djalo, Norwood, Kebano, Piazon, Fonte, Kamara.