Cairney pulls out of Scotland squad

Tom Cairney has withdrawn from the Scotland squad for next month’s international double header against Belgium and Albania due to an ankle injury.

The Fulham captain limped off towards the end of their first Premier League victory of the season against Burnley on Sunday and was rested for last night’s League Cup win over Exeter City. Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic had hoped that the playmaker would be available for Saturday’s trip to face Brighton and Hove Albion, but that now looks unlikely following Cairney’s withdrawal.

The 27 year-old suffered serious disruption to the start of his campaign last season due to a persistent knee injury and this latest ankle problem, caused by a late challenge from Burnley’s Charlie Taylor, could give Jokanovic a selection headache for the clash at the AMEX this weekend. Cairney’s possible absence could open the door to Stefan Johansen, who captained the Whites to victory over the Grecians last night.

Kamara growing in confidence after Exeter double

Aboubakar Kamara believes his confidence – and that of the Fulham team – is growing after he scored twice to beat Exeter and send the Whites into the third round of the League Cup.

The French forward’s brace gave Fulham a comfortable win over the League Two outfit at Craven Cottage last night and he feels that the victory will boost morale in the camp ahead of Saturday’s tough trip to Brighton. The 23 year-old told Fulham’s official website:

It’s good to score the two goals, it gives us confidence. It’s great for everyone, for me and the whole team. We’re all here to support each other. It’s important to take your chance. When a coach decides that you are ready to play, then you have to show that you will repay his faith in making that decision. Also, it’s good for my own confidence to score goals.

Kamara admitted that facing lower league opposition was far from easy but he was also determined to take his chance to impress Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic.

It’s not easy, mentally it’s not easy, you really have to apply yourself. It’s right that they are a lower league team but they came here with the intention to win so we had to respect them, which is what we did, but we also had to show that we wanted to win as well.

It’s a long season, a very long season. The first two games of course were difficult, but there are so many matches left. We have to be solid and now just have that belief that we can carry on this good form.

Mawson pleased with ‘perfect debut’

Alfie Mawson was delighted to come through his Fulham debut unscathed after spending a long summer on the sidelines following knee surgery – and described a clean sheet in the League Cup victory over Exeter City as ‘a perfect debut‘.

The former England under-21 international defender made his long-awaited Fulham debut alongside Calum Chambers at the heart of a much-changed back four and lasted far longer than head coach Slavisa Jokanovic had suggested in his pre-match comments. Mawson told FulhamFCTV of his pleasure at finally being able to pull on the Fulham shirt after his summer switch from Swansea City:

I think we dominated. We were a bit slow in the first half with our build-up play, but fair play to Exeter they set up quite well. A clean sheet is the most important thing for me as a debut and to go through with that is perfect.

I was really happy. I think this game was the perfect opportunity for me to get out there and really test the knee since the injury and, thankfully, no problems at all. I felt really strong. To play a bit longer than first anticipated, I’m really happy with that and like I said, the way it went is very encouraging.

Mawson believes that the win over League Two opposition will serve as a good confidence boost heading into Saturday’s tricky trip to the south coast to take on Brighton and Hove Albion.

You’ve got to show respect to whoever you’re playing. They’re here for a reason, they’ve done well in the last round and lower league teams up their game [in this competition]. Fair play to them, but tonight was a really professional job on our behalf and I’m really proud of the lads.

The ball-playing centre back is hopeful of making a strong contribution as he rediscovers his match sharpness and praised Fulham’s fitness staff for ensuring his return to first-team action went so smoothly.

The club have put together a programme for me and I’ve stuck to it. For the last week I’ve been in full training. It was always the aim to get out there as quick as I can. The lads done brilliantly on Sunday and all things are going well at the moment. Getting through tonight is good for confidence, it’s a morale booster for everyone – especially the fans. Saturday is going to be a big task, but I think the lads will have more than enough if we play like we did the other day.

Kebano could have ‘ligament damage’

Fulham winger Neeskens Kebano could have had sustained ankle ligament damage after being stretchered off in tonight’s League Cup win over Exeter City.

The Congolese international looked in considerable pain after being unintentionally caught on his ankle by Aaron Martin’s follow through after the Grecians centre back blocked Kebano’s shot towards the end of Fulham’s victory. Kebano immediately fell to the turf, clutching his ankle and was carried off following treatment on the pitch from the Fulham physios.

Jokanovic told his post-match press conference that it was too early to accurately assess the extent of the damage, but he hoped that the 26 year-old, who has suffered from a number of injuries since moving to Craven Cottage, was not badly hurt.

He switched the ankle and we must still assess him, I cannot give you more information. t could be some ligament damage but I don’t know, we must assess him.

Jokanovic seeks ‘further improvement’

Slavisa Jokanovic was pleased that Fulham progressed in the League Cup tonight by seeing off Exeter City – but has urged his side to strive for further improvement.

The Serbian head coach praised the Whites’ ambition after watching his team defeat their League Two opposition comfortably, courtesy of two goals from French forward Aboubakar Kamara – but he told his post-match press conference that he had identified a number of areas where Fulham should be looking to improve:

I must be happy with the ambition we showed today. We wanted to fight and compete in the game. We are in some kind of the process, we need to look a little bit better in possession and not complicate our life, show a little bit more quality on the pitch.

It’s part of the process, like I’ve said before. We need to improve. We are going in the normal way and we expect that in the next round we can play better football still than today. Tactically we need to improve. We need to know our positions better, I need more people in the box, I need us to play with less touches. The process is never finished – we need to try and improve and improve and improve.

Jokanovic made eleven changes from Sunday’s victory over Burnley and reiterated the importance of giving some of the first team squad’s fringe players an early season run out.

We played two days ago and I didn’t see any sense in playing any players who featured two days ago. I used some players who didn’t have so many chances at the beginning of the season. Now we are a bigger squad and I have the space to use more people in different competitions. I try to find logic when I am working and for me there was logic using the players I did today.

The Fulham boss singled out debutante Alfie Mawson for particular praise after the former England under-21 international came through his first start since a summer move from Swansea City unscathed.

Alfie Mawson came in for his debut and put in an assured performance. He also had no adverse reaction to his recent injury, playing more minutes than were initially scheduled. He showed quality, he showed experience. I had the plan to bring him off after 65 minutes, and in the end he had 10 minutes more.

He adapted himself with the team very well, and showed he will be a great addition for us. He probably needs a little bit more time to be 100 per cent fit, but he showed today that he can be part of the squad in the league. Ahead of us is three training sessions. He showed a good level and after three and a half months this is his first game.

Jokanovic insisted that it was too early to say whether Mawson would keep his place in the starting line-up when Fulham travel to the AMEX Stadium to take on Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend.

We are happy how he adapted himself with us. He showed he’s strong, he’s solid in the air. He knows how to play football, and he is going to be a good addition for us. I have three days more to think about my team and choose what I think is the best option for us when fighting for the points against Brighton,