New Fulham boss Felix Magath has dropped £12million striker Kostas Mitroglou for Saturday’s west London derby against Chelsea.
Mitroglou made his debut in last weekend’s 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at West Brom, but will not participate when Jose Mourinho’s side visit Craven Cottage.
Magath insists the Greece forward, a deadline-day signing bought to fill the void created by Dimitar Berbatov’s departure, is not yet ready for the demands of English football.
“Kostas is a very dangerous striker, but in this league you have to be fit if you are to be ready to score,” Magath said.
“Next weekend (against Cardiff on March 8) I’m convinced that he will be back in the squad.”
Magath is hoping to capitalise on Chelsea’s Champions League fatigue when Fulham attempt to climb off the foot of the table by defeating the Premier League leaders.
The Blues were held to 1-1 draw against Galatasaray in Istanbul on Wednesday night and Magath insists they will have been drained by the travel.
“When a team has played in the Champions League, it is always an advantage,” Magath said.
“We are lucky that Chelsea have had such a long trip to Istanbul to play on Wednesday. It’s a good situation for us.
“I remember the situation – you have to stay at the airport, fly for a few hours and then play the game at night.
“Players can’t sleep so well and are tired and then they have to spend more time at the airport. It bothers the players a lot.
“It gives us a chance. Chelsea are favourites, everyone knows that, but we’ll try to fight and make a fast game.
“If we pressurise Chelsea then we have a good chance to win the game.”
Magath oversaw his first match as Fulham boss in the Hawthorns draw and will be making his Craven Cottage debut on Saturday.
The German believes the home fans will have a key role to play in the his team’s bid for Premier League survival. They currently lie four points adrift of safety with 11 games remaining.
“It’s an important game for me because it’s my first appearance at Craven Cottage,” he said.
“If we show fighting spirit on the pitch, we can get the crowd behind us.
“At home games the crowd will be the 12th man and that’s what we need. We need all the support we can get.”