Slavisa Jokanovic says Fulham are undeterred by the prospect of facing league leaders Newcastle United this weekend – because the Whites have grown in confidence during their recent unbeaten run and are in form.
The Serbian coach’s side will take significant momentum into Saturday’s St. James’ Park after the euphoria of Tom Cairney’s last gasp equaliser against Leeds, where Jokanovic felt Fulham played most of the football. He told his pre-match press conference that his focus was on trying to beat the Magpies now:
We played a good game on Tuesday and I thought we did enough to get three points. But this game is behind us now. All the games are tough, and this one is away against the top Championship team. But we go there in form and with confidence.
I am not surprised Newcastle are top. They made great investments and are a big team. They deserve to be there. Rafa Benitez is a big name in our competition. He’s a good coach who has won the Champions League, but my job is to beat him.
Jokanovic urged his defenders to avoid the slip-ups that have undermined their attempts to reach the Championship play-off positions. Tim Ream gifted Leeds a dream start with a horrible own goal on Tuesday night – and Fulham can’t afford to be so generous against Benitez’s charges:
We need to concentrate and not make mistakes. Eleven games are in front of us and we expect to be able to fight for the topsix. My nomination for Championship manager of the month is nice for my staff but my focus is on the Newcastle game which is in front of us.
The Fulham head coach confirmed that most of his squad will be available for selection, apart from winger Floyd Ayite who will miss out on the trip to Tynside. Jokanovic did reveal that he hopes to be able to call upon Lucas Piazon, who fractured his jaw at Cardiff a couple of weeks ago, before the end of the season as his recovery has began well.
At this moment Floyd Ayité is the only one outside the squad. We expect Lucas Piazon can be available for the last games.