Slavisa Jokanovic has urged his Fulham players to cut out the sloppy mistakes or they can forget about reaching the play-offs.

The Serbian head coach has issued a warning to his side ahead of tomorrow’s crucial clash with Aston Villa at Craven Cottage and insisted that their excellent passing football will count for nothing if it continues to be undermined by basic defensive mistakes. Poor defending in recent defeats by Wolves and Derby – as well as the concession of a last minute equaliser against relegation-threatened Blackburn – has cost Fulham the opportunity to leapfrog Sheffield Wednesday and reach the top six.

The Whites are two points off the play-off positions with four games remaining – and it looks like Jokanovic’s side could have to win all four of their fixtures to make sure of a spot in the top six. The Fulham head coach told the Daily Mirror:

We must show more personality and be more solid to survive those bad moments. If I compare us to teams like Newcastle or Brighton, I’m not sure they play better football than us. But I’m sure that in crucial moments in the game they are more solid and they survive difficult moments easier than we do.

That is what we need. I’m not just talking about our defence. In general we need to interpret and understand moments during the game. We must be tight and forget the aesthetics and don’t give opponents easy goals.

The memory of the two dreadful mistakes from David Button at Derby is clearly still imprinted on Jokanovic’s mind. Academy graduate Marcus Bettinelli has seized his chance in goal, but the Fulham boss is adamant that there can be no repeat of the defensive sloppiness that has crept in at times this term:

Against Derby, we opened the door so easily for them and they punished us. We must avoid that kind of situation, be more competitive, more brave and more experienced. During the short part of the season that’s in front of us we must improve this part of our game.

I need brave players, intelligent enough and understand what’s happening around us. That’s what could push up into the top six. We have five games in front of us and I am confident my players can do a great job in this crucial period of the Championship.