Slavisa Jokanovic has warned his Fulham team that Aston Villa will be geared up for Saturday’s match.
The Midlands outfit have played just two matches under new boss Steve Bruce, and Jokanovic knows their players will be keen to impress.
“Aston Villa changed their coach, and always this is extra motivation for the team,” he explained. “Their squad is full of quality players.
“I don’t know what kind of risk they will take against us. I expect they will try to be solid, strong, and try to surprise us if we make mistakes, or try to catch us on the counter-attack.
“Aston Villa is a big name, good squad, experienced coach, and we have to be ready for everything that is in front of us.
“This competition is full of big names, big clubs. At the start of the Championship 85 per cent of the teams want to be promoted. We are in this 85 per cent, Aston Villa are too.”
Bruce is unbeaten since taking charge at Villa Park, but his record is identical to Fulham’s over the past two fixtures.
“If you believe Villa did a fantastic job in the last two games, we did the same job,” he stated. “They won one game away and drew one game at home, I don’t see a big difference.
“We’ve shown that we can fight against all the Championship teams. We are playing against a top team in the competition, okay they’re not at the top of the table but it’s a top name, and it’s extra motivation for us.
“It’s a great place to try and show your best performance. We have confidence, and we’re going to try and dominate the game, but we have to be careful we don’t make big mistakes.
“We have to be ready to stop their counter-attacks. We are going to try and be positive, we are going to try to win the game, to win the points.
“It’s important to concentrate, especially when you are playing against a top team, you cannot make so many mistakes. We could have finished our first half against Norwich 0-0, but at half-time we were two goals down.
“We need to find a balance between possession of the ball and creating things, and how we have to work all together without the ball. We didn’t play many bad games, but we didn’t win enough points. Sometimes you have to win even when you play badly.”
Chris Martin has played a starring role in Fulham’s last two spirted showings, but that has not come as a surprise to his manager.
“He scored two goals, but he also supports us with the ball and is very strong in the challenge, and he collaborates very well with the team,” Jokanovic said. “In the past he always scores between 15-20 goals in this competition, and we believe he is working hard. We are a team who creates things, we are a talented team, we are a team who creates chances. In the last two games we scored six goals and this is a different story to what we had before the international break.”
Martin’s form has come as a serious boost to Fulham and Jokanovic dismissed reports linking him with an early return to his parent club.
“He is going to stay with us this season, 100 per cent,” he confirmed. “Our intention at the beginning was to sign him permanently. Why we didn’t I can’t go too deep into. We believe he’s going to be an important player for us. I’m not so interested in what the Derby fans are thinking – let’s ask the Fulham fans what they believe is better for us! I believe it’s better for us that he is with us all of the season. The situation is not going to change.”