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Fulham captain Tom Cairney says they can still catch the top two but have “no room for slip-ups” once the Championship restarts on Saturday.

The third-placed Cottagers are six points behind West Brom and seven adrift of leaders Leeds as they prepare for the final nine games of the season.

They make their return against fourth-placed Brentford before going to Leeds.

“I don’t think the best footballing side will necessarily have the most success,” Cairney said.

The former Hull and Blackburn midfielder told BBC Radio London: “It will be the team that dogs it out, stays together and goes that extra mile for each other when it gets really hard.”

Scott Parker’s Fulham are looking to bounce back up to the Premier League at the first time of asking and seal a second promotion out of the Championship in three seasons.

The coronavirus pandemic means no games have been played for more than three months – resulting in a lack of match fitness – while all games will be played behind closed doors. But Cairney, 29, wants to put those variables to one side.

“We know the Championship is relentless but this is something I have never experienced, especially having three months out and then coming straight back into this carnage,” he said.

“Everyone has got an excuse – it is easy at a time like this to say why it went wrong or why you are not performing, or why you didn’t get promoted.

“You have got a big excuse and I think the team which won’t look to have those excuses will be most successful, and that is what we are trying to do.

“The only way is to hit the ground running, as otherwise you’ll be too far behind. There is not room for slip-ups right now.”