Kit Symons needs no reminding of how difficult a fixture Middlesbrough away represents, but he’s backing his Fulham side to cause plenty of problems of their own.
Aitor Karanka’s team remain the favourites for promotion this season, but Symons believes the Whites have enough in their armoury to unlock a resolute Boro defence on Saturday.
Speaking in Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Symons said:
“They’re a strong outfit and they don’t concede many goals at all, so we know we’ll have to be very creative in our play and bright in our movement to break them down, but we’ve got players who can do that. So I’m quite confident going into it.
“At the start of the season when you’re looking at the fixtures when they first come out you’d put this one down as a real tough one because everyone’s expecting them to do well. And full credit to them, they’ve gone and done it.
“They’re a really good side with a good manager in Aitor, and a really good squad, so it’s going to be a tough game no matter what.
“But saying that, I watched them play the week before the international break at Reading – because we obviously played Charlton on the Sunday – and they got beaten by a very good Reading side.
“So they’re beatable, but they’re very, very strong so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Karanka kept the majority of his team intact in the summer, whilst also adding the likes of Stewart Downing, David Nugent and Christian Stuani to his ranks, giving the Spaniard arguably one of the strongest squads in the division.
“If you’ve got a plan or a vision to take the club forward, it takes a period of time to do that,” Symons explained. “He’s been given that and he’s been backed very well.
“They’ve brought in good players – Downing, Nugent, people like that – they’ve made some good acquisitions to add to what’s already a very strong squad.
“They’re further ahead of us in their building process if you like, and they’re a very good side and we know we’re going to be in for a real test on Saturday.”
Boro have kept a clean sheet in four Sky Bet Championship games this season. Fulham looked to be on track for only our second going into the last 10 minutes against Charlton Athletic last time out, and Symons admitted his side need to be more formidable at the back.
“We need to start keeping more clean sheets ourselves, there’s no getting away from it,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work during the international break on the defensive side of the game, but we always do – set-pieces, defending, we work on it regularly.
“So that side of it needs to improve and we’re fully aware of that, and again I’m confident that’ll come.”