Fulham travel to Bolton tomorrow hoping to keep two fine records going. Slavisa Jokanovic’s side have strung together six successive league wins to move to fifth in the Championship table and spark dreams of a surge into the automatic promotion places. The Whites will have history on their side at the Macron Stadium this weekend, having lost just one of their last fourteen league meetings with Wanderers. Jokanovic has already warned his players not to underestimate their hosts – and Fulham don’t need to cast their minds too far back to find a reminder of Bolton’s potential. It took a 94th minute equaliser from Tom Cairney to rescue a point at Craven Cottage in October.
More recent evidence of the kind of damage the Trotters could do to promotion aspirations could be found in Horwich last Friday night, when Phil Parkinson’s side beat Bristol City 1-0. Bolton didn’t appear to be missing £6m man Gary Madine, who moved to Cardiff at the close of the transfer window, too much that night with Sammy Ameobi, the scorer of their goal at the Cottage, notching the winner against Fulham fan Lee Johnson’s side. Wanderers are making a real fight of their relegation battle and their recent revival has been founded on their home form, with Wanderers only losing one of their last ten matches at the Macron. Parkinson has also made his side tough to break down, with a creditable clean sheet against City proof of how hard to play through Bolton now are.
Tim Ream returns to his former employers tomorrow – having been a firm favourite during his three and a half years with Bolton. The American made 126 appearances for Wanderers and is sure of a good reception from the home fans – his form for Fulham means he is fast approaching a similar status with the Craven Cottage faithful as well. Young Ryan Sessegnon’s two player of the month awards this week are a testament to the fact that his performances are now getting the accolades they deserve and he will keen to try and find the net again after following his six goals in January with a quiet afternoon in terms of goalscoring against Nottingham Forest last time out.
Jokanovic confirmed during his press conference yesterday that captain Tom Cairney has resumed training after his knee problems, but the Fulham head coach also told the press that he will leave a decision about the captain’s participation in tomorrow’s contest as late as he can. The Fulham head coach’s toughest choice will be which of his three fully-fit strikers to field up front. Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem for the Whites since the turn of the year and there’s no doubt that Aleksandar Mitrovic will be desperate to open his Fulham account after an encouraging debut last week.
Fulham have scored in the 88th minute or later in their last four matches and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if this game is settled at the death, either. Bolton will be well organised and determined to halt the Cottagers’ 100% start to 2018 by 5pm tomorrow, so Jokanovic’s charges will have to be ready for the kind of physicality that Lucas Piazon hinted may await earlier this week. Ultimately, I believe Fulham’s style of play and confidence on the counter could cause Bolton too many problems if we can get our fluent football going.