Marco Silva has revealed that Fulham will start the new Championship campaign without captain Tom Cairney and Terence Kongolo as the pair have yet to return to full training.
Scottish international Cairney has been managing a knee problem throughout pre-season which has limited his ability to impress Fulham’s new manager at Motspur Park. The 30 year-old hasn’t featured since Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle last December and is some weeks away from a possible return.
Silva told the press this afternoon: “Tom, in this moment, is not fit yet. We are working with him to get him, as soon as we can, fully fit and in condition to show his quality. He is a key player for us, a really important player for us. He will be a key player for me, for sure, and Fulham Football Club. It’s up to us to get him in better condition as soon as possible because he is really important on the pitch and off it.”
Kongolo, who has endured two injury-plagued spells at Craven Cottage, was injured early in his return to the Fulham first team after coming off worse in a tackle with Wolves winger Adama Traore in April. The 27 year-old has made four appearances for Fulham and Silva knows he will need to be patient with the Dutch centre back. “We hope he’ll be ready soon, but it’s not an easy thing and over the next few weeks we have to see how he can be,” he said.
Silva also reiterated that he believes Fulham should be able to retain the services of their key performers as they plan for an immediate return to the top flight. “I’m still really confident that we can keep our best players… as a manager you cannot say you are 100 per cent sure…(but) until now, I haven’t seen one sign that someone will leave the club,” he added.
At least it sounds as though, with both players, it is just a matter of achieving full fitness -rather than a continuation of the injuries that have blighted them.
Cairney -fully fit -is a class above most Championship players so it would be great to have him back.
Kongolo is, arguably, the best central defender on our books and it is a great shame that we have not been able to see him at his best.
Contrary to Marco Silva’s optimism re the retention of our best players, I have a concern that the one really viable attraction to other clubs – Frank Anguissa -may depart before the window closes. He would command a decent fee and would enable the club to balance their books for this particular window. I hope I’m wrong because his presence in our Championship midfield should make pretty spectacular viewing.
I’m really uncertain how I feel about either Tom , Kongolo or even Mawson featuring as ‘key’ players. Toms been an absolute servant but anyone going into their thirties with constant injuries it’s a difficult situation when the teams buzzing with a fit Tom having a run of form then suddenly he’s out for the season again. Personally I wouldn’t rely on that , that’s not to say I want to lose him but he shouldn’t be key to plans. Forget Kongolo, same reasoning, looks like he’s always going to be injury prone. Would be nice to be wrong though,Kongolo plays a full season and is our best defender. We can dream.
Clearly they are both top class at this level, but, given their injury records you just simply can’t rely on them in planning the squad depth. Sadly, anything we get has to be viewed as a bonus.