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Cairney confident ahead of Birmingham test

Tom Cairney believes Birmingham will make life difficult for Fulham tomorrow night – but feels the league leaders will be full of confidence after three straight wins.

The Fulham captain told the club’s official website:

“They’re going to be looking to make it awkward for us and cagey when they come here on Tuesday night. But we’ve beaten them twice already this season and, on our patch, we can beat anyone on our day, so we’ve got to be looking to get three points.”

Cairney is looking forward to the second part of a Craven Cottage double header having suffered through a succession of postponements over the festive period.

“It’s nice. We wanted to play straight after that Sheffield United game because it was a frustrating night all round. But we had a long lay-off, we’ve come back with the right mindset, and it’s great to be back at the Cottage.”

Silva wants to build on ‘very good week’

Marco Silva wants to take the momentum from ‘a very good week’ into Fulham’s Championship clash with Birmingham City tomorrow night.

The Fulham head coach told FFCTV this afternoon that he was delighted with the way the Whites returned to competitive action – with thirteen goals in two wins over Reading and Bristol City – but also by progressing to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

“Very good last week. Not just because of the two wins in the Championship, I think the FA Cup as well – it was a really important match for us, even if it wasn’t the perfect performance because I had to make a lot of changes. I expected that. The result we got, a good feeling to win a football match again and after a long break and some bad results was really important. It was the first step for us for to get back on the right track on.

We had a very, very good second half against Reading. It was a fantastic score for us and that three points. We kept the momentum, gave the players that confidence. After the way we reacted last Saturday, the way we came back twice, the way we scored five goals in the first half, some very good moves and mobility – it was a very good week for us.”

Much of the focus has been on Fulham’s goalscoring exploits but Silva believes a miserly defence is just as important as he seeks to solidify their position at the top of the table.

“The attacking philosophy is there and it is something that in our model for sure, but the main thing is that we are not conceding many goals. I know we conceded twice last time, but we are not conceding many goals – that means you have a good defensive organisation and that we are improving. We change many things, we play a lot of the time in the midfield and in attack, but you have to keep the balance and not be surprised like we were on Saturday.”

Silva highlighted the contribution of Tom Cairney, who had his best game of the season against Bristol City at the weekend, and emphasised the improvements he wants from his playmaker when not in possession.

“He’s improving. I feel I am seeing more from Tom. His physical condition is growing, he’s more involved. Of course, it is really important for me as a manager to have Tom Cairney in the best physical condition that he can. He knows what I expect from him. He’s a guy with a very good knowledge of football, he loves football. My job is get to him more involved with the ball, but without the ball as well – because he’s playing a different role than the previous seasons without the ball. He has the ability to find the spaces, find the gaps and to create the moments for our forward players to get the chances and I need to take the best from him.”

The Fulham boss isn’t going to take Birmingham lightly despite the Blues heading to Craven Cottage on a poor run of form – arguing that the reverse fixture at St. Andrew’s was much tighter than the scoreline eventually suggested.

“When we played Birmingham away, the game was really tough for us. We know that nothing is guaranteed in this competition. We have already forgotten the last two results, the last two scores. They gave confidence to us but the next match will start 0-0. We have to go with our maximum desire, maximum commitment, try to play good football because if you perform well you will be closer to winning. We respect them. All the throw ins from the halfway line will be in the box, they will put the ball in our box and we’ll have to be aware of that.”

Silva keen on keeping Mawson

Marco Silva has reiterated that he wants to keep Alfie Mawson at Fulham despite firm interest from Birmingham City.

Blues are eager to take the 27 year-old centre back, whose contract at Craven Cottage expires at the end of the season, to St. Andrew’s but Silva told his pre-match press conference this afternoon that he is keen to keep both Mawson and Hector as part of his first team squad, whilst considering loan offers for Terence Kongolo.

Silva said:

“Alfie is our player. We will keep our player I hope. We have four central defenders, plus Terence Kongolo, who, as you know, we are trying to find a solution for him to go on loan. We want to keep the four central defenders. Of course they want to play more, but football is like that. The other two are having a very very, good season. They have to keep fighting to get the chance, and when the chance is there, to perform in the right way.”

Bowie eyes another win

Kieron Bowie is targeting another win as Fulham’s under 23s travel to Southampton this evening.

The Scottish striker scored one and made another as Steve Wigley’s side triumphed at Nottingham Forest last week and told Fulham’s official website that he was full of confidence as a result.

We weren’t at our best on Monday but we got the three points which says a lot about this group of players. On a personal note, I’m definitely feeling refreshed after some time off and hopefully I can continue to score goals for the rest of the season and push us to promotion.

I feel I’ve adapted well. I’ve already played against bigger boys than at Under-23s level previously, so I don’t think I’ve struggled in terms of the step up in quality. We try to play our game no matter where it is, as venue shouldn’t make much difference to how we go about doing our things.”

Middlesbrough match rescheduled for 5 April

Fulham’s trip to the Riverside Stadium to play Middlesbrough has been rescheduled for Tuesday 5 April, kicking off at 7.45pm.

The fixture – originally planned to take place on Saturday 5 February – had to be moved after both sides progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Marco Silva’s side drew 1-1 with Boro at Craven Cottage on the opening weekend of the season – with Harry Wilson scoring Fulham’s goal.