Slavisa Jokanovic has called on his Fulham side to remain fully focused on what he described as a ‘super competitive’ Sunderland side as the Whites prepare for a Stadium of Light reunion with former managers Chris Coleman and Kit Symons on Saturday.
The Serbian head coach believes his players will travel to the north east in confident mood after three wins from their last four games, but has urged Fulham to pay scant attention to the current Championship table with the Black Cats scrapping for their lives just months after being relegated from the Premier League. Jokanovic feels Coleman, who saw his side battle for a point at Wolves despite being reduced to ten men, will galvanise a side who are on the cusp of going an entire calendar year without a home win.
The Fulham boss told his Motspur Park press conference this afternoon:
Sunderland desperately need the points. I expect that they’ll be super competitive because of their situation. This will be a tough game. Chris Coleman is a fantastic manager and I hear he is a great man too. They have a new coach and I expect them to show some kind of improvement.
We must only think about Sunderland, but we also have to be ready for a busy Christmas period ahead. We need a focused squad.
Jokanovic spoke of his delight that Lucas Piazon, who has been sidelined since August after breaking his leg at Leeds, has return to first-team training ahead of schedule. The Fulham head coach is keen not to rush the Brazilian back from a serious injury too soon and, despite encouraging signs, will not consider him for selection this weekend.
It is great that Lucas Piazon has started working with the team. This is the best news for us this week. It’s been positive. Lucas is very satisfied with his progress but we are a little bit careful with him and don’t want to push him. He looked comfortable with and without the ball, and he is satisfied with his progress.
Jokanovic will be without Neeskens Kebano, who limped off at the end of the first half against Birmingham having made the only goal for Sheyi Ojo, and Floyd Ayite this weekend but believes the duo and Piazon have a chance to feature later in Fulham’s festive programme.
I believe Lucas will be ready to join in with 100 per cent of the training next week, and Kebano too. We expect he is going to be available soon, like Floyd too. Now it is a question of a few days, and all these three players can be entirely available for the few games at the end of this year.