Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez hopes his midfield duo of Steve Davis and Alexei Smertin will provide them with enough quality to overcome League Two side Shrewsbury in the second round of the Carling Cup.

Sanchez has been critical of his team’s inability to hold on to a lead and knows he cannot afford to suffer a humiliating exit at the hands of the Shrews.

Fulham threw away another lead against Aston Villa on Saturday and Sanchez is becoming increasingly frustrated.

The Cottagers are already struggling near the foot of the Barclays Premier League but Sanchez hopes his energetic midfield duo will have enough quality to steer them into the next round of the cup competition.

“Steven’s got great energy and gets about the field. He gets among players, wins the ball and gets things started off,” he said.

“It’s the nitty-gritty stuff in midfield that the rest of the team need and you don’t tend to get a lot of credit for that.

“He needs to add goals to his game. He could have scored against Arsenal but he also creates things for other people.

“I think once he gets his feet firmly under the table he’ll be a real big influence over the Fulham midfield for many years to come.

“The two midfield players at Fulham outran anybody else over the first three games. Davis and Smertin are continual motion and you need that in the centre of midfield.

“You need players who can get around the field and be an option for you. I have been very impressed with our two central midfield players.”

But the Fulham boss hopes to add to his playing squad before the end of the transfer deadline this week.

Celtic pair Thomas Gravesen and Kenny Miller top his most-wanted after the pair were reportedly placed on the transfer list, although the Bhoys denied that.

Sanchez said: “We have to get back to the drawing board. Injury-wise, we’ve got Antti Niemi, Brian McBride and Aaron Hughes out and we do need some more bodies in the club.

“Hopefully we’ll attempt to do that this week. We aren’t very far away from being decent, but we do need to turn leads into wins.”

Fulham have also taken Stuttgart forward Danijel Ljuboja on trial.

Ljuboja is unlikely to remain with the German side after demanding wages equal to those he earned at his former club Paris Saint Germain.

He has since been left in the reserves at Stuttgart but now wants to move on after already rejecting a transfer to Siena.