A clutch of Championship clubs are keen to offer Neeskens Kebano first team football if Fulham are open to letting him leave on loan before the end of the transfer window, according to reports this morning.
Football Insider says that several second-tier sides are ready to table offers to take the Congolese winger on loan, but Scott Parker and the Fulham hierarchy have yet to decide on his immediate future. The 28 year-old has only started one league game this season – he lasted 63 minutes of the opening day defeat by Arsenal – and his chances of further football at Craven Cottage appear remote after the Whites were knocked out of the FA Cup by Burnley last weekend. Kebano, who scored in the previous round at QPR, was a second half substitute in that defeat by the Clarets.
The likeable winger signed a two-year contract following Fulham’s promotion in August having scored five goals in as many games – and emerged as a surprise free-kick specialist – as Parker’s side triumphed in the Championship play-offs. Having slipped out of the first-team picture following the summer arrival of Ademola Lookman, Kebano will be looking to secure regular football to boost his international prospects with DR Congo battling to qualify for the delayed Africa Cup of Nations finals due to be held this summer.
He has scored 15 goals in 99 appearances since signing from Genk for £3.5m in August 2016, but has only started 35 games in over four years in London. Sheffield Wednesday have had several loan offers for Kebano rejected in recent seasons – and it remains to be seen if the winger will be one of the departures hinted at by Parker in his post-match comments on Sunday.
To say that Fulham are in a precarious situation would be a massive understatement. Ignoring yesterday’s terrible performance in the cup against Burnley, we have been much improved in the league, but with little to show for it. We now sit five points off Brighton in the position above us and have West Brom breathing down our necks. The next two games against the teams either side of us in the league are season defining. There is no escaping that. To be honest we are beyond being able to play well but not win. Those matches against Southampton, Brighton and Newcastle for example were real positive signs of Fulham moving forward, but we can’t afford slip-ups any more. Draws aren’t good enough anymore against certain teams. Win our next two games and the confidence will be back. Win one and draw/lose the other and the fear will still be lingering. Draw or lose them both and we are in full-crisis mode. That might sound like a bit of an overreaction, but given where we are in the table, we can’t afford to let the gap between ourselves and Brighton grow bigger. I fully believe that Newcastle will be in this fight as well, unless they make a managerial change soon, so it’s certainly not just the bottom four in the relegation mix right now.
Let’s start with Brighton. There is something very unbalanced about the Seagulls. They have some incredibly talented players in Trossard, Maupay and Lamptey but they don’t seem to have the right cohesion throughout the squad to sail away from their relegation fears. If he could sort his hot-headedness out, I’d quite like Maupay at Fulham. He could fill the large hole we currently have up front and is without a doubt will be a real danger man for them come Wednesday night. Last time we played them we were very fortunate to come away with a draw with two Brighton goals ruled out rightly for offside. In a pre-VAR world we would have lost that night. Brighton also have the benefit of a win at the weekend, albeit against lower league opposition in Blackpool. As they say, winning breeds winning, so their confidence will certainly be higher than Fulham’s will be based on yesterday’s display. They also won last time out in the league against Leeds, so this is a team in much better form than us. It’s therefore a great chance for us to bring them back down to earth with a bang by taking all three points off them on Wednesday night. After this game they face Tottenham Hotspur and then Liverpool so this is an opportunity for us to really put the pressure on.
As I’ve already alluded to, and pretty much on everyone’s mind at the minute, is Fulham’s lack of a goal scorer on form right now. I say that as I do believe that Mitrovic could still have something to offer us, but we absolutely have to get the service into him. Yesterday he barely had scraps to work off, so really what more could he do? He was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out in the first half as well. I’d like to see what he could do with Lookman and BDR on the flanks and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been improving, just behind. We know Tete can deliver a good ball, and Bryan combined with Mitro plenty of times last season, so with those two in the wing back positions we could make Mitro a threat again. Defensively we have to be miles better than yesterday. Thankfully we won’t have to rely on Hector (what on earth has happened to him?) and Ream as Aina and Andersen should be back in after their weekend rest. The triple A team of Aina, Andersen and Adarabioyo has been exceptional since being put together so we need another big display from them tomorrow against a speedy attack.
I have no doubt that results will come from this side. We just need them to come sooner rather than later or it will be too late. Come on, boys. It’s time.
The Dutch defender had been missing since picking up a calf injury in the 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa back in October but returned to good effect at right wing-back in the narrow defeat by Chelsea earlier this month. He was pleased to bring his period on the sidelines to an end and told FFCTV that he was ‘almost there’ in terms of reaching full match sharpness:
“It was really hard for me to be honest. It was a long three months outside, pain every day but I did well. I think we played well, we deserved more, but individually I think I played well and I look back with a good feeling.”
Tete knows that Wednesday’s trip to Brighton is a big game, but feels Fulham can more than match the south coast side as shown in their goalless draw at Craven Cottage before Christmas:
“I think it will be a hard game, a tough game for us. They need points, we need points so it is going to be a battle. I think our defence is really solid and we have to keep improving that. We need to get some goals – we are working on that and I believe in this team.”
He stressed the togetherness of Scott Parker’s squad and feels Fulham have more quality to unleash in the coming weeks.
“We are all together. We speak a lot. We have a lot of quality in our squad. We believe in each other, we believe in the coach and everything has to fall into place.”
Fulham are among a number of clubs preparing an offer for in-demand Peterborough forward Siriki Dembele, according to reports this afternoon.
Football Insider claims that the Whites, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest are all keen on signing the 24-year-old, who submitted a transfer request earlier this month. Dembele, who can operate as a conventional striker or on either wing, has scored six goals in twenty appearances for the League One side this season and has been a longstanding Fulham target.
Celtic are also keen on reuniting Dembele with his brother Karamoko at Parkhead and Old Firm rivals Rangers are reported to be monitoring his availability as well. Peterborough dismissed a £250,000-loan-to-buy approach from Forest last week and, although Dembele is keen to leave London Road by the end of this transfer window, Posh will be seeking a substantially improved offer to part with a player who remains in their first-team plans.
The 22 year-old has made twenty appearances for Argyle and has recently firmly established himself in the heart of manager Ryan Lowe’s three-man central defence, having initially broken into the side at left back. Lowe has been delighted with Opoku’s progress and told the Plymouth official website:
“We’re delighted to extend Jerome’s loan until the end of the season. It was always the plan, and he has done well and is working hard. He’s a good lad and a good player. On the occasions he has found himself out of the team he has come back stronger. He has made that position his own at the moment, and long may that continue”.
Opoku, who has previously captained Fulham’s under 23 side, spent last season on loan at Accrington Stanley, making 25 appearances. His current contract at Craven Cottage expires in the summer, but Fulham have an option to extend it by a further year.
The Fulham manager made eight changes from the team that were narrowly beaten by Manchester United in midweek but none of the newcomers pressed a claim to start this week’s crunch games at Brighton and West Brom. Burnley were in complete control from the off and booked a fifth round tie against either Bournemouth or Crawley courtesy of a brace from Jay Rodriguez’s and Kevin Long’s late third.
Parker was bitterly disappointed with Fulham’s tame showing, telling his post-match press conference:
“We didn’t deserve a result today. It was a tough game and we couldn’t match what we had to face today, we couldn’t deal with them. We fell very short of the standards we’re used to seeing. We all understood the challenges and we couldn’t deal with it too well and get a foothold in the game. Burnley were well worthy of the win.”
The Fulham boss was similarly pessimistic about the potential for new arrivals before the closure of the January transfer window, saying ‘I’m not sure that’s going to happen’. Pressed on potential outgoings, Parker admitted some fringe players may leave the club with Stefan Johansen’s rumoured departure for QPR on loan ‘a possibility’.