Lawrie Sanchez is hoping Fulham captain Brian McBride will return for the pre-Christmas game against Wigan Athletic.

McBride has been sidelined since mid-August after suffering a knee injury in the process of scoring in the 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.

The powerful striker’s presence has been missed by The Cottagers, who are on a run of nine games without a win in the Premier League.

But Fulham boss Sanchez is planning to have McBride back in his plans for the match with fellow strugglers Wigan on 22nd December.

“I always knew that Brian would be a big miss,” Sanchez told the club’s official website.

“You try and pencil in dates for a player’s recovery and we are targeting the 22nd of December for him to be available for selection.

“I think English football has to be played with a big centre-forward. In Kenwyne Jones, Sunderland seem to have shown that.

“You need an aerial presence; all the top teams have that. Brian is one of the best in the Premier League and it’s been a hard gap to fill.

“We can’t afford to miss players of Brian’s quality – that’s why the front two have been mixed and matched all season since then.”