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Marco Silva spoke of his personal history of watching the FA Cup with his father as a child in Portugal as the Fulham manager contemplated how to balance respecting the world’s oldest Cup competition with the demands of an increasingly packed January schedule.

The Whites, who will have gone nearly three weeks without any football when they head to Bristol City for Saturday lunchtime’s third round tie, are set to play five games in fourteen days after three festive postponements. Silva told his pre-match press conference this afternoon:

“I grew up watching the FA Cup in my house with my father. It is always a competition that you can watch in Portugal. You have to understand as well for a manager, you have to look not just at the moment, but the future as well. I really love the competition and the competition is amazing but what I will decide is not just because of the competition, which I respect, it’s what will come after as well, because what will come after for us is not a normal thing.

The Championship is tough anyway but what is to come is not our fault. This doesn’t mean that we won’t respect the competition.”

Silva admitted the complications caused by the spread of the omicron variant within elite football have presented serious challenges for his squad.

“It’s been tough for us as a football club. If you are preparing for a game, two days before, preparing your team, preparing strategies and someone comes and tells you another game is cancelled, of course it is not a normal thing. It’s been tough for a lot of us, all of us managers for sure but the reality now is we are trying to create the scenario outside of the training sessions and inside of the training sessions to keep up the competition and aim to keep winning and the most important thing in the training sessions is to prepare them.”

The Fulham head coach knows that Bristol City will represent a real challenge at the weekend.

“It’s a tough place to play but a good place to play. The atmosphere is good – I liked the atmosphere. It’s a good pitch to play football against a good side. They had a good result in their last game and I’m sure it will give more confidence to them. They will match us for sure and they will try to do their best but again, it is up to us to do our best and win the game and go through the competition.”

Silva revealed that Fulham are dealing with two coronavirus cases at present within their squad, having been struggling with around seven or eight cases at the end of December. Saturday will see him without Jean Michael Seri, who has travelled to Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, and Ivan Cavaleiro, although the Angolan winger has returned to training.

The Fulham boss shared some irritation at the recent run of postponed matches.

“All of us and the EFL try to be clear, if you have 14 players with a goalkeeper you are ready to play. But after the bar is too high when you start talking about injured players as well. One situation is Covid, the other is injured players. How can you control injured players? Who controls injured players from a club? Of course we have to trust, and you have to be respectful with this season. But the situation is there, the protocol is clear, the number of players is there as well.

They decided to put injured players with Covid players as well. That’s a new thing and creates a different scenario. I hope the people controlling the situation make the rules clear, and strict. When you start talking about injured players, the door is too [wide] to be realistic.”