We’d all waited patiently, eagerly anticipating the Premier League’s return. Fulham fans, staff and players alike were fired up to make amends for two gutting stoppage-time defeats at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day. For the first time in a while, for a myriad of reasons, the World Cup felt different. The excitement was beginning to rise once again with the prospect of watching Marco Silva’s Whites attack the top flight once more when the terrible news of George Cohen’s sad passing filtered through on Friday morning. Now, the Premier League resumption will feel both poignant and hollow, coming after the loss of our World Cup winner. I’m sure the travelling fans will do George proud at Palace – and that Fulham will pay a fitting tribute of their own on New Year’s Eve ahead of the home game against Southampton.

It will certainly be emotional and Marco Silva spoke movingly of Cohen’s importance to the club in his pre-match press conference just hours after the announcement on Friday. London’s oldest professional football club often seems something of a throwback to a simpler time and a gentleman like Cohen was, as Chloe noted on Saturday, a fine ambassador for Fulham. It is up to all of us to take his legacy forward now. George would have been proud of the sense of adventured that Silva has infused the current side with – and the Portuguese head coach will ensure that nobody talks a backward step this afternoon. He has remained to his word that the Whites would be bold in the top flight and the results have been astonishing.

Hearts fluttered when Silva included Aleksandar Mitrovic as amongst the doubts for this London derby. The news that the Serbian striker, who missed a pair of matches in the run up to the World Cup, and clearly represented his country in Qatar without being fully fit, might not be risked against Palace shouldn’t come as a galloping shock. Mitrovic appeared to have been rushed back from a serious foot problem to face Newcastle at the start of October – and Fulham’s medical staff would be wise to guard against a repeat. The rumour mill flew into overdrive as a result of Silva’s statement of fact when, in actual fact, a sensible shepherding of Fulham’s most potent goal threat is only prudent.

The potential absence of Fulham’s talismanic number nine, as well as forcing Fantasy Football managers to revise their line-ups up and down the land, led to plenty of pessimism about the club’s striking resources. There’s no doubt that this is an area where the Whites could look to strengthen in January, but asking an elite forward to come to Craven Cottage and be back up to Mitrovic is much easier said than done. Carlos Vinicius looked sharper than he ever has in a white shirt against West Ham last weekend and will fancy his marking his mark against an Eagles defence that will be missing Marc Guehi. It is far better to give the Brazilian another start rather than risk losing Mitrovic for another month – in my view, at least.

There are other injuries that Silva has to to contend with. Antonee Robinson’s knee worries and more niggles for Layvin Kurzawa mean Fulham may be forced to shuffle their back four, by shifting Tim Ream across to left back. Although not ideal, this isn’t as disastrous as it could be for the Whites, either. Ream – in the middle of a magnificent Indian summer and on a post-World Cup high – dealt well enough with Brennan Johnson in his last league outing at full back at Nottingham Forest whilst Tosin Adarabioyo could step into centre back alongside Issa Diop confidently too. This Fulham side have responded to adversity fairly strongly already this season and it seems a disciplined set-up where everyone knows their roles.

Silva’s side will need to be at their sharpest to deny Palace a fourth straight league win at home, though. Patrick Vieira’s side are formidable in front of their Selhurst Park supporters – taking thirteen points from seven games in SE25 – and coming from behind to see off Leeds and Wolves before putting Southampton to the sword for good measure. Three more points, which would represent their best home form since 1990, would propel the Eagles to level-pegging with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at a pivotal point in the season. Palace have worrisome weapons all over the park with Wilfred Zaha (six goals and two assists) looking lively as ever on the left flank, Odsonne Edouard showing signs of transferring his Celtic form to south of the border, and the mouthwatering talents of former Fulham youngster Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise really beginning to flourish.

But Fulham pushed Manchester City and Manchester United all the way in the fortnight before the winter break – and should travel to south-east London full of confidence. Even if Mitrovic isn’t considered fit enough to renew acquaintances with the awesome Joachim Andersen, Silva could feel justified in counting on the combined creativity of the wily Willian, Harry Wilson and Andreas Pereira to pose problems for the Palace back line. It should be an intriguing encounter.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, Ream, Adarabioyo, Diop; Palhinha, Reed; Wilson, Willian, Pereira; Vinicius. Subs: Rodak, Duffy, Mbabu, Onomah, Cairney, Decordova-Reid, James, Harris.