Marco Silva was reluctant to discuss what he felt about Aleksandar Mitrovic’s eight-match suspension, but admitted Fulham will have to learn how to cope without the Serbian striker as they seek to get their season back on track against struggling West Ham United tomorrow.

The Portuguese boss was tight-lipped on the club’s reaction to their talisman’s ban for his altercation with referee Chris Kavanagh during Fulham’s FA Cup quarter final defeat at Manchester United last month – which was handed down by an independent regulatory commission last week. He insisted that his side, who have lost four games in a row, will need to improve without Mitrovic and that the number nine’s absence is an opportunity for others to shine in a Fulham shirt.

Silva told his pre-match press conference earlier this afternoon:

“We will keep inside all of the strange feelings we feel right now. Of course he is an important player for us, we cannot hide our situation. When you have such an important player, your top goalscorer, who goes out of the game, you are always facing something. But at the same time it is a moment for the player that is going to play in this position – it could be Carlos Vinicius or another player – to show their qualities.

Always when these type of things happen, it is an opportunity for the other [player] to come in and to show quality, to show why he is here at this level, by being involved in our squad. But I cannot lie to you that Mitrovic is really important for us. He did not play the last game, will not be in tomorrow’s match and the next games as well.”

The Fulham head coach is seeking a return to the sort of form that has seen the Whites surprise everyone in their first season back in the Premier League.

“We know that all of us have to try to get that consistency which made us to be in a good position. It is difficult to find the reasons why the team dropped in the second half [at AFC Bournemouth last week]. After analysing the game, we already found it and we spoke with the players and showed them why these things cannot happen for us.”

Silva insisted that he has put West Ham’s poor league position to one side as Fulham prepared for tomorrow’s London derby at Craven Cottage – knowing that the Hammers will be desperate for the three points themselves.

“We’re not thinking that they are struggling, because if you are going to think [like that] then I think Bournemouth is a good lesson. They were struggling, and we did so well first half, and with no reason we didn’t perform second half. I know it is really tough to be in position [West Ham] are in, and probably for a squad, a team like that, they were not even thinking of being where they are right now. As you know, they are competing in European competition, which means that last season they finished in a very good spot.

The money they spent, the signings that they made, showed that they wanted to fight again, so of course for them to be the position they are is not a good feeling inside the dressing room, for their staff, for sure, for David Moyes and their fanbase. But that is not important for us really, we look at ourselves, we demand some pressure and put some pressure on ourselves that each game is for us to win and to improve from the last one. That’s something that we want, clearly.

We are going to play against a very good side. They are not in a good moment, but we focus on ourselves because we want to perform well. I would like to mention and make a message for our fans. They know how we are doing so, so well this season. Now we are in a not very, very good moment, and it’s a moment for them to play their part as well.

As I asked them from the first day of the season, and last season, we are going to be all together for the good days and the bad days as well. Tomorrow I am really confident that it will be a good day for us, and we need them to be behind the team.”