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Fulham linked with Roos raid

Fulham are one of several clubs interested in signing Derby County goalkeeper Kelle Roos, according to reports this morning.

The Football Insider suggests that the Whites, Norwich City and Bournemouth are all considering making a move for the Dutch goalkeeper in January to capitalise on the Rams’ financial difficulties. The 29 year-old is out of contract at the end of the current season – and, therefore, may be available for a cut-price fee with Derby, who have been hit by two points deductions for financial irregularities this season, in administration.

Roos has been in superb form for Derby during a difficult campaign, with one of his five clean sheets coming in last week’s goalless draw at Craven Cottage. Wayne Rooney’s men have conceded just seventeen goals in sixteen matches. The former PSV Eindhoven youngster has spent most of his career with Derby and has extensive experience of English football through a number of loan spells. Roos has made 87 appearances for the Rams and is now firmly established as the number one at Pride Park.

Whether Fulham would seriously be tempted to bring in another goalkeeper in January remains to be seen. Spanish goalkeeper Fabri, who has only made two first-team appearances for the club, remains on the books whilst summer signing Paulo Gazzaniga has been relegated to the bench by the brilliant recent form of Slovakian international Marek Rodak.

Wilson looking forward to Bournemouth test

Fulham winger Harry Wilson can’t wait to test himself against familiar opposition when the Whites take on Bournemouth in the top-of-the-table clash at Craven Cottage this evening.

The Welsh international, who has a superb start to life in SW6 since signing from Liverpool this summer, spent a season on loan at Bournemouth in 2019/20 and knows that they will be difficult opponents. He told Fulham’s official website:

“There’s still a lot of the staff and a lot of the players are still the same. I know the manager’s changed and there’s a few new faces, but I think the core of that squad are players that I played there with. So I know the quality of them, and a lot of the boys here who played under Scott Parker know what he’s like as well, so there’s two teams who are going to know a lot about each other, and come Friday night it’s up to us to make sure we’re the better team.

When you play against a Bournemouth team, especially in the Championship, you know what a good and strong outfit they’re going to be, and they’ve shown that this season. And for me to play against a few of my friends and people I’ve shared the pitch with is going to be good.”

Wilson warns that any friendships, such as his particularly close bond with Bournemouth and Welsh centre back Chris Mepham, will be on hold tonight.

“I class Meps as one of my best mates so it’s going to be good to play against him. As soon as that whistle goes, obviously we won’t be friends, but before the game I’m sure we’ll have a little catch up and take the mick out of each other, and then afterwards it will be the same. But for that 90 or 95 minutes, our friendship will be put to one side because I’ll be doing all I can to win the game for Fulham.

Seri: ‘I want to pay Fulham back’

Jean-Michael Seri wants to repay Fulham for the faith they showed in him by leading the Whites back to the Premier League – and he hopes to prove a point to former manager Scott Parker tomorrow night.

Marco Silva’s side face Bournemouth in a clash of the Championship’s top two at Craven Cottage and the Ivorian playmaker is keen to display his talent after Parker denied him the opportunity of a second chance in a Fulham shirt. Seri was frustrated to be left out of Fulham’s 25-man Premier League squad after returning from loan last season, but is making up for lost time under new boss Marco Silva.

The former Nice midfielder told the Sun that it took a while for him to adjust to English football and that he was bitterly disappointed with his performances in his first season in London:

“I felt a lot of expectation when I joined. The Fulham fans had heard about me almost joining Barcelona so thought I would help them stay in the Premier League. Unfortunately things didn’t go as we all wanted. The club spent a lot of money for me and expected better from me. I didn’t give back something.. I must give the club something back for that investment so I’m glad to be doing so now.

When you first come to England, it can be difficult. We can see this with a lot of players who come from different countries because it’s very different here to other leagues. What I learned, reflecting on that season, is that you must have a winning mentality every day, not just on matchdays. If you have a game on Saturday, you can’t start preparing on Thursday. You must be preparing from Monday to the matchday.”

He also detailed his disappointment at being left out of Parker’s Premier League plans when he felt he would be able to contribute to Fulham’s fight to establish themselves in the top flight.

“I had a positive season in Turkey so it was frustrating to not play. I was thinking, ‘Why does the manager not realise that I can help the team?’ because I was in very good form and very confident. I had learned from my past experience in the Premier League. If he gave me one chance, I could’ve helped the team. It was a big frustration and not what I expected when I returned.

“I spoke to Scott Parker before we started the season and that conversation must remain private. But he decided what he had to decide and it was a difficult situation for me.”

Seri is relishing the opportunity to express himself under Silva after swiftly establishing himself as a key part of Fulham’s midfield.

“When the gaffer arrived, he said, ‘I want you to help us go up together into the Premier League.’ I knew Marco from when he was in Portugal and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I wanted to stay here and my family like London too. The Championship is actually better than a lot of the leagues in Europe.

“I’m here for the whole season. I want to celebrate when we get promoted. I want to enjoy this moment with the club. Fulham deserves it because they’ve spent a lot of money on me. They deserve to be in the Premier League for many years and I believe Marco is building something good. And I want to pay the club back.”

Up next: AFC Bournemouth (h)

The mouthwatering prospect of a meeting between the Championship’s top two, separated by just a single point, awaits at Craven Cottage on Friday night. Both Fulham and Bournemouth were threatening to build a sizeable advantage over the chasing pack until a couple of setbacks over the past week or so, but you would be hard pressed to find a bookmaker who wasn’t packing the pair to both be automatically promoted come May. The return of Scott Parker to SW6 offers this clash an extra edge – and should generate plenty of column inches in the morning papers – however much sides seek to downplay the significance of his presence in the visiting dugout.

Parker’s departure after an underwhelming return to the top flight wasn’t without rancour. The Fulham board were disappointed in the lacklustre way the club went down, especially after giving themselves a fighting chance of survival with back-to-back wins on Merseyside. The suspicion remains that Parker, an astute manager of his own media profile, was engineering his exit having isolated a number of key players and his plan to offload the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Tom Cairney as part of a radical reshaping of the playing squad ahead of another tilt at the Championship now looks laughable. Fulham might well consider themselves fortunate to have dodged that particular bullet – as well as Parker’s particularly sterile football.

Contrary to Parker’s rather curious assertion yesterday that little has changed at Craven Cottage after he decamped to the south coast, Marco Silva has introduced a much more adventurous style of play, reinvigorated Mitrovic and successfully reintegrated Jean Michael Seri. Fulham’s approach is now designed around attacking the opposition and giving creative players the platform to shine – rather than simply seeking to stay in matches. It is, of course, much easier to play this way in the Championship than in the pressure-cooker of the Premier League but few could argue that Parker’s Fulham sides stretched pragmatism to the extreme. Other than the mullering of Millwall at Craven Cottage, there were few flowing performances under his stewardship and the Whites underwhelmed when expected to be one of the leading contenders for automatic promotion in 2019/20.

That is not to say that Parker has not put together a strong Bournemouth side. They are well drilled, look after the ball impressively and difficult to beat. Marrying Lloyd Kelly’s promise with the experience of Gary Cahill makes for a miserly central defensive partnership and in, Phillip Billing, the Cherries have one of the division’s most complete midfielders. Jaidon Anthony’s emergence as a lively winger, who weighs in with crucial goals, has been one of the stories of the season alongside the goalscoring exploits of Dominic Solanke and the canny acquisition of the dangerous Ryan Christie. Make no mistake about it – Bournemouth will represent the toughest test of Fulham’s season to date.

Parker will have to navigate his way around a significant injury crisis as he prepares for this fixture. Bournemouth might be without as many as nine first-team players for the trip to the capital. Kelly, Cahill, Adam Smith, Robbie Brady, Jordan Zemura, Ben Pearson, Junior Stanislas and David Brooks all missed Saturday’s dramatic draw with Coventry City, in which Jefferson Lerma was sent off meaning the midfielder – who had lined in central defence – will be suspended tomorrow night. Parker cast doubt over whether any of his injured eight would be available tomorrow night, although there may be a degree of smoke and mirrors in operation when recalling how tightly he keeps his cards close to his chest.

Fulham’s own selection will once again be dictated by how well key members of the squad have recovered from the norovirus bug that badly disrupted Silva’s preparations for the draws against Derby and Preston. The Fulham head coach did suggest earlier today that Cairney will be available, having missed those two fixtures, although whether the playmaker will come straight back into the starting line-up remains to be seen. You’d feel that Fulham will need Harrison Reed’s tenacity from the outset in what is likely to be a high octane clash and it would be strange to drop Seri given both his form and the opportunity to prove a point to his former boss. That motivation will be uppermost in Mitrovic’s mind too – given how he and Parker clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye in the last twelve months.

Fulham have passed most of the tests put in front of Silva’s side this season. They easily dispatched West Brom at the end of October, sparking the Baggies poor run of form, and will need to perform at a similar level if they are not to surrender top spot. Parker will undoubtedly get a hot reception from a hostile home crowd, but the Whites can’t afford to take their eye off the ball. Retaining focus, possession and putting an impressive Bournemouth defence under pressure from the first whistle will be essential.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Tete, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Reed, Seri; Kebano, Wilson, Carvalho; Mitrovic. Subs: Gazzaniga, Odoi, Hector, Cairney, Onomah, Decordova-Reid, Muniz.

Bournemouth is just ‘another game,’ says Silva

Marco Silva has sought to downplay the significance of Scott Parker’s return to Craven Cottage as Fulham prepare to take on Bournemouth in a clash of the Championship’s top two tomorrow night.

The Fulham head coach told his pre-match press conference this afternoon that he was approaching the Cherries in exactly the same way as he has with every other opponent.

“For us it’s another game. They are three points. I don’t see this game differently to West Bromwich Albion, or Stoke when we played them as we were both in the play-off positions in the table. It’s a game against a tough side that is there at the top with us, a team with a lot of quality, individual players with high technical quality. Good organisation as well.

The biggest game of the season? Definitely not. We don’t look to the game in this way. Is it a game that we want to win? Definitely yes. It’s a game where we are fully motivated, like we were in all the others before. Nobody can win seven games in a row if you’re not fully motivated, nobody can be nine games unbeaten if you’re not fully motivated.

What I want from the players, and from everyone in this football club, is to look to the game like we have all this week. It will be a tough game for us because of the quality of Bournemouth, but there’s nothing more about it. Tomorrow I want to see all of us, all my players, all the staff, approach it the same way we have all season. Nothing more. It’s Fulham against Bournemouth, not the names in the middle.”

Silva knows his side will face a stern test of their promotion credentials, with Bournemouth only a point behind them following an impressive start to the season.

I think both teams are doing fantastic this season. We are really happy with the season we’re having so far. Of course, I always want more, and my players want more as well. We are demanding more from ourselves as we always want to improve. Tomorrow we have another game, a tough game. I expect an open game with both teams playing to win the football match. This is the main thing for us.”

Mitrovic ‘not for sale,’ say Fulham

Fulham have insisted Aleksandar Mitrovic is not for sale after a number of European clubs expressed interest in signing the in-form striker in January.

Mitrovic has scored an extraordinary 21 Championship goals in eighteen league appearances and established himself as a key part of Marco Silva’s side having been ostracised by former manager Scott Parker last season. The 27 year-old, who also headed Serbia’s last minute winner in Portugal to send his country to the World Cup finals, was linked with a move to Villarreal last month whilst Teamtalk reports that Juventus, Fiorentina, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Nice and Lille have made contact with Fulham about a potential transfer.

But the Fulham hierarchy have been unequivocal in their response – telling all parties that Mitrovic, who signed a new five-year contract at Craven Cottage in August, is unavailable for transfer. The club believe that their talisman will be vital in not only helping them return to the Premier League at the first time of asking but keeping the Whites back in the top flight. Mitrovic’s agent has also rebuffed approaches from other clubs stressing how happy their client and his family are in London.

Reed relishing Bournemouth battle

Harrison Reed can’t wait for Friday night when Fulham take on Bournemouth at Craven Cottage in a clash of the Championship’s top two.

The former Southampton midfielder insisted that Scott Parker had done a good job at Fulham and been a key part in bringing him to the club, but admits the fixture will have an extra edge. Reed told FFCTV this afternoon that he is almost fully recovered from the bug that had hit him hard over the last week or so. It is a measure of Reed’s commitment to the cause that he started both games despite feeling seriously under the weather:

“Getting there. It’s been a tough week – I think for the whole squad, to be honest. After the Barnsley game, a few players came down with it and it seemed to spread throughout the team. We had to try and do what we had to do last week and we came away with two points and the teams around us matched us, so we got away with it a little bit.

Reed admitted the squad were disappointed to drop points at Preston North End last weekend and reiterated that he felt the North End equaliser should have been ruled out:

“Yeah, it does. It was clear on the pitch to a few of the players, I didn’t quite see it. It was handball. A few of the boys tried to speak to the ref but he wasn’t open to changing his decision. Our performance in the second half wasn’t at our best. To come away with a point from a tough place to go, we’ll take and go into Friday.”

He is now fully focused on the tough task presented by the Cherries, who will be eager to reclaim top spot with a win on Friday.

“It’s set up to be a great game. It’s been us two at the top throughout the whole season. We’ve pulled away a little bit from third. We need to pull away from second now. We need to keep pushing, work hard this week and put in a good performance on Friday night. Night games are the best, especially at home. We seem to perform really well, the results always seem to be good. We can’t wait to get going. It’s going to be a special atmosphere. The fans this season have been top drawer. Every home and away game they’ve been heard and I expect the same on Friday night, with a little bit of extra edge.”

Reed also revealed how incoming Fulham head coach Marco Silva has reshaped his own role having replaced Parker during the summer.

“I’m a little bit more advanced. It’s something we spoke about earlier in the season when I was actually injured. We had a couple of meetings and he spoke to me about positions and how he sees me fitting in the team: it was slightly more advanced, more box-to-box role. It was something I was really happy to hear and its over to me to try and add more goals and assists at the other end of the pitch.”

Fulham preparing ‘£18m move for Fulgini’

Fulham are readying a massive £18m move for Angers attacking midfielder Angelo Fulgini, according to today’s Sun.

The Whites are already eyeing up possible reinforcements ahead of a return to the Premier League and Marco Silva is keen to add to his options in midfield, with concerns over the long-term fitness of captain Tom Cairney and teenage talent Fabio Carvalho having six months to run on his current contract. Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa, currently starring on loan at Napoli, is set to leave Craven Cottage permanently in the summer – and Fulgini has quickly become one of the club’s top targets.

The former French under-21 international has been one of Angers’ key players as the Black and Whites have surged to sixth in the Ligue 1 table, just two points off an unlikely Champions’ League spot. He came through the Valenciennes youth academy before joining Angers in 2017 and has scored 21 goals in 138 games for Le SCO, adding fifteen assists. Fulgini, born in the Ivory Coast, has scored twice in fourteen games – including a stunner against PSG – this term.

Angers are willing to sell their playmaker should a suitor meet their £18m asking price – and sent club directors to England last month to discuss a possible transfer. The player, who was close to joining Feyenoord over the summer, is keen to play in England and Fulham might prove an attractive option as Silva’s side sit top of the Championship, with the gap widening to third-placed West Brom.

Ream revels in rare goal

Tim Ream admitted Fulham were frustrated not to take all three points away from Deepdale this afternoon – but did enjoy scoring his first goal for nearly four years.

The American centre back gave the Whites a first half lead with a close range finish from Jean Michael Seri’s free kick, although Marco Silva’s side were very much second best after the break. Preston equalised through a controversial strike from substitute Ched Evans and Ream reflected on the disappointment at dropping more times. He told FFCTV after the final whistle:

“It’s still frustrating. Obviously, we were in a winning position and maybe we were a little bit hard done by for their goal. With what’s been going through the squad, two points from two games is not exactly where we want to be but we’ve gotten through it and go again on Friday. Everybody is disappointed with the result today, but you remain unbeaten and we’re still top of the table for the time being.

The veteran defender conceded that there were plenty of below par elements to Fulham’s performance this afternoon.

“I don’t necessarily know that we did enough [to win the game] in the attacking sense. We were kind of second best to a lot of second balls in midfield. We’re disappointed. We weren’t at our best today. Every single person in that changing room knows that. That’s something that we can reflect on and look at this week and really get down to work and nail that down.”

He was, however, delighted to score his first Fulham goal since a header against Cardiff on Boxing Day in 2017.

“It’s nice. It’s been a while! We work a lot on set pieces. Each guy has our different slots that we run through. I saw a gap and I kind of went through it. I knew the ball was being put in there and we do work on that quite a bit. It was just a matter of getting anything on it – at that distance, the keeper’s not going to have much time to react. Luckily it went to my left, I just stuck a toe out and it went into the back of the net.”

Silva slams officials

Marco Silva was furious after Fulham were denied three points at Preston North End by Ched Evans’ equaliser this afternoon.

The Fulham head coach told Sky Sports that the home side’s leveller should have been disallowed – not just for handballs by Evans and Emil Riis but for a foul on the Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

“It’s a mistake – it is not controversial. It is a clear mistake from the referee. The goal came from a clear, clear mistake. It was bad performances from ourselves and a bad performance from the referee. It is not just one foul, it is two fouls. It is an elbow in his face maybe and after the elbow as well I think it is two handballs. It is difficult for the fourth official, the linesman and the referee. You have to protect the goalkeepers in this competition – because so many fouls on them, because in one moment you push them inside the goal and it is an easy goal.

“It is not an excuse because I explained that our second half was not good enough. We must do different in the second half. The last game we lost was more or less the same thing. The game was balanced, tough game to play and there was a dive in our box. This afternoon unfortunately for us was the same. We have to look at what we can control and what can control is not do in the second half what we did.”

Silva saved some opprobrium for his own side, who surrendered the lead given to them by Tim Ream’s opener with a whimper in a second half where they were outfought.

“I would prefer to start in a different way because it is not just the decision – but in terms of performance, first half we played in the way we wanted to play. We knew that they will be five at the back, we started to control the ball and we move the ball from side to side. We created some moments, we scored and we were clearly the best team on the pitch in the first half, even if they had some counter attacks.

Second half – the reality is we didn’t play. We didn’t perform in the way we should do, the way we prepared and the way we expected after our speech at half time. It was a bad, bad second half from us.”