Kit Symons admits Fulham need to go on an “unbelievable run” if they are to gatecrash the Championship play-offs.
The Cottagers were handicapped by a nightmare start to the season under ex-boss Felix Magath and they lie 13 points off sixth-placed Watford so an instant return to the Premier League seems highly unlikely.
Symons said: “It would take a fantastic, almost unbelievable run to get there but lots of other teams above us are still pushing for the play-offs and I’m sure even one or two teams below are thinking they have an outside chance.
“We’ll just keep going and look to get as many points as possible.”
Fulham crashed out of the FA Cup after losing the fourth round replay against Sunderland in midweek. Symons’ men have a comfortable seven point cushion over the relegation zone so there looks to be little to play for.
But he has his eyes on next season and wants to see his side progress in the coming months.
Symons said: “The games come thick and fast now as it’s such a busy time. The last couple of months are really full on and the end of the season will be on us before we know it.
“There’s a lot of football still to play and I’m looking forward to it and I want to keep seeing the progression.”
Fulham host Birmingham on Saturday but they are sweating on the fitness of captain Scott Parker while Bryan Ruiz is still waiting for FIFA to ratify his loan switch to Levante.
Young full-back Sean Kavanagh is back in full training and could return to the squad while defensive pair Tim Hoogland Fernando Amorebieta are set to step-up their return from long-term injury problems.
The visitors, like Fulham, have enjoyed a revival after changing managers and are unbeaten in five matches.
Wingers Demarai Gray and David Cotterill have thrived under new boss Gary Rowett and Symons knows the pair could cause problems for his defence.
He said: “We’ve looked at the whole team, tactically how and what we’ll have to do to nullify them and they’ve got big threats in wide areas.
“They’re both very good, but very different players and they’ll pose a real threat but they’ve got good threats throughout the team.
“We’ve done our homework, we have a game plan, we’ll have to put that into practice and hopefully them we’ll come out on top.”