Fulham have confirmed that they will have to begin the Premiership season without key midfielder Steed Malbranque after the Frenchman suffered a groin injury in pre-season training.

The former Lyon star is making slow progress in his recovery from the injury and club phsyio Jason Palmer believes he will miss the first few games of the campaign.

Palmer said “Steed began complaining about groin pain during the first few days of pre-season.

“As a result he was pulled from training and was scanned which showed an irritation in the groin/pelvic area.

“If not treated appropriately such conditions can keep players out for an extended period of time. Consequently we’ve been very cautious with Steed’s injury management.

“He has been progressing slowly but surely over the last few weeks, but we are being mindful of the fact that pushing him too quickly or too hard could result in more problems in the long run.

“At this point it is hard to predict when we expect to see him back in full training, but it is very unlikely he’ll be available for the first couple of games of the season.”

Malbranque was an ever-present for the Cottagers in the Premiership last season, finding the target six times.