Fulham will give late fitness tests to no fewer than five players ahead of Saturday’s game against Preston North End.

Richard Stearman, Tom Cairney, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jamie O’Hara and Ross McCormack will all have a delayed assessment ahead of the Craven Cottage clash having picked up knocks in last weekend’s draw at MK Dons.

But while caretaker-boss Peter Grant expects Stearman, Cairney, O’Hara and McCormack to be fit to face the Lilywhites, Tunnicliffe is touch and go after pulling his hamstring.

The midfielder is likely to instead join Jazz Richards, who is still a week to 10 days away from fitness, on the sidelines.

Grant said: “It will mean last-minute checks. We expect most of them will be okay, but Ryan is struggling, and hamstrings can take a little while.

“When he came off last week he wanted to get back onto the pitch so we could get a sub on, but you have to be careful with hamstring injuries. They are murder for any footballer, I had one in my playing days.”

Grant is expecting a stern test against a side who have pulled away from the Championship drop zone with a run of only one defeat in seven.

But he has warned his leaky back four, who have conceded the second-most goals in the division, that they need to shore things up if they are to take a first three-pointer this month.

He said: “They will be very difficult to beat, but I always trust my players. The atmosphere we had in the 4-0 win over QPR is the one we want, but it’s our job to create it.

“We know we have to get better against the ball as we can’t score four goals in every game to win it. We’re top scorers in the league, but you have the get the defensive mentality into the whole group, not just the defenders.

“A clean sheet for is is like a striker scoring a hat-trick. We’ve had bad decision making, lapses in concentration, and last weekend we conceded after we switched off at a short corner.”