Slavisa Jokanovic will have a decision to make over his Fulham number one for Saturday’s trip to Preston North End after Marcus Bettinelli returned to full training following a hamstring injury.
David Button enjoyed an encouraging start to his Craven Cottage career with an accomplished clean sheet in the victory over Newcastle United last week after Bettinelli was ruled out with a hamstring problem. Finnish international Jesse Joronen, who had kept goal impressively against Crystal Palace in the final pre-season friendly stepped up to the first team for the midweek win over Leyton Orient in the EFL Cup, but is expected to go on loan for more regular senior football before the close of the transfer window.
Bettinelli’s return to the first team after a horror injury at Hull was one of the key factors in the surprise summer departure of Andy Lonergan after just a year at Fulham, but Jokanovic will have to decide whether the former England under-21 international should make an immediate return to the side. The Serbian head coach told a pre-match press conference today:
Marcus was working with us today and I believe he’s going to be available for the Preston game. He’s had a hamstring muscle injury.
Jokanovic has been pleased with Fulham’s start to the season but knows that the trip to Deepdale, where a hard-fought victory helped to secure safety from the drop last term, will prove a stern test of his team’s new aspirations.
We have to be focused on what’s immediately in front of us and be available to fight for the points. We started against Newcastle and won three points which was very nice. It’s not the end of the story but these three points can be very important for us at the end of April, for example.
These are points that we have to fight for again on Saturday afternoon against Preston. In two days I have to be ready to compete and at 5 o’clock we’ll know the result. At the end of the day, the only thing that’s important is the result.
The Fulham head coach said he had been pleased with the way in which some of the club’s youngsters had stepped up in the Cup victory at Brisbane Road.
I have used 23 players. This is Fulham. We don’t have Fulham A and Fulham B. This is my squad, I use all the people that I have in my squad in these two games.
The whole team knows what we have to do, what they must do on the field. For many minutes against Newcastle and for many minutes against Leyton Orient, my team played very good football. I’m very happy with my players.
Jokanovic told the media that he was keen to make further additions to his squad, but was not ‘frustrated’ and rather ‘realistic’ about the situation, insisting that he would not make comments about players currently contracted to other clubs.