Alfie Mawson will be fit for Fulham’s Championship opener at Barnsley after shaking off a knee injury during last weekend’s pre-season friendly against West Ham.
The former England under-21 international defender had limped out of Fulham’s final pre-season game at the start of the second half after an innocuous challenge, reviving memories of how he had missed almost four months of last term after suffering a similar injury against Huddersfield at Christmas. The injury had sparked concerns that Fulham might need to enter the transfer market to add central defensive cover, but manager Scott Parker has confirmed that Mawson will be available at Oakwell.
“Both Stefan Johansen and Alfie Mawson have come through training this week,” Parker told the media during his pre-match press conference this afternoon at Motspur Park. “Alfie Mawson was cautionary and Stefan got a knock late on, but both players have come through this week okay.
Whoever is picked on Saturday, there’s an opportunity to make a statement. Barnsley are used to winning and it’s going to be tough. We’re under no illusions. It’s going to be a real battle and hopefully we come out on top.”
Parker said he had really enjoyed his first summer in management after being confirmed as Fulham’s permanent manager, after winning three of his ten games as a caretaker as the Whites were relegated from the Premier League last May.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been six weeks of working with the team, getting some ideas across, working the players pretty hard for what’s going to be a tough year. There’s been some good quality work gone in which has been pleasing. The players are looking forward to what’s going to be a massive campaign.”
The former Fulham midfielder felt that confidence was high at Craven Cottage after the Whites managed to retain the services of captain Tom Cairney and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. The pair, so critical to Fulham’s promotion from the Championship in 2017/2018, both signed contract extensions during the summer.
“I think it was vitally important. We recognised that at the back end of last season, and fair play to the hierarchy at the football club for convincing these players to stay and tying them down on long contracts. These players are going to be pivotal for us this year, in their knowledge of the league, their quality of course as players, but first and foremost their knowledge of the league and how this division works, because it’s relentless at times.”