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Grant and Curbishley to pick team

Fulham coaches Peter Grant and Alan Curbishley have been tasked with picking the side to get a first win at MK Dons.

The search for a new manager continues after ex-Chelsea defender Steve Clarke U-turned on any switch from Reading yesterday leaving the caretakers to add final touches for a first competitive visit to Stadium MK.

Fulham are set to welcome back Jazz Richards and Ryan Fredericks, with one of the summer signings slotting in at right-back, a luxury denied sacked boss Kit Symons in the 5-2 defeat to Birmingham that cost him his job a fortnight ago.

Grant has been running the rule over returning internationals that include Tim Ream and Lasse Vigen Christensen, but made it plain any talk of fatigue fell on deaf ears.

The ex-Norwch manager, now U21s chief at the Cottage, reckons a managerless side are in good spirits despite uncertainty at the helm.

He said: “The boys have prepared really well and say there are no concerns. People think they must be telling lies. But your job is to play the game no matter who’s in charge. Your job doesn’t change. We have a clean bill of health with most of the players coming back, and I’m very happy with players coming back from international duty.

“Some had two games, and some didn’t play. That’s part and parcel of the modern game. If you tell some they are tired, they will be tired.”

More than 3,000 Fulham fans will make the relatively short trip up the M1 in hope of a third Championship away win, although long term injuries to Marcus Bettinelli and Andy Lonergan leaves Whites with only Joe Lewis and untried 18-year-old Marek Rodak to cover the goalkeeper slots.

Curbishley not ruling himself out

Former Charlton and West Ham boss Alan Curbishley has refused to rule himself out of the running for the manager’s job at Fulham.

The 58-year-old has been out of management since leaving West Ham in 2008, but was an advisor to Kit Symons at Craven Cottage before the Welshman was sacked on Sunday.

Fulham lost 5-2 at home to Birmingham at the weekend and are currently eight points adrift of the Championship play-offs.

But Curbishley feels they are capable of finishing in the top six and admits the vacant job is an “attractive” proposition.

“It’s up to other people. They need to think about what kind of manager they want,” he said.

“It is an attractive job and I’m sure there are going to be lots of people who will be applying.

“I won two promotions (with Charlton) and I’ve been in the play-offs before.

“With the top two at the moment on 30-odd points, it is a big haul to catch them.

“Fulham have got a side which could, on its day, beat anyone 4-0. But they could get beaten 4-0. Whoever comes in has got to try and change that a little bit.

“You have got to get the results. That was why it was a galling situation at the weekend for Fulham, because if we had beaten Birmingham we would have gone two points behind them.

“It is difficult, but it can be done.”

Symons on Curbishley

Fulham manager Kit Symons is using Alan Curbishley as a sounding board regarding decision making at Fulham.

The former Charlton boss first joined the club in December 2013 only to leave two months later after Felix Magath’s appointment.

After the German was sacked in September 2014, he returned to the club to assist Symons in March 2015.

And Symons revealed how grateful he was for Curbishley’s influence as he looks to help Fulham rebuild from a poor season last year.

The manager said: “He’s been really good. He’s vastly experienced and very down to earth. He’s been a big help to me and the staff.

“He’s come in to assist me with first team affairs. His level of experience is top drawer. He’s not a mentor but he’s someone I can tap in to with his experienced.

“I can court his opinion on all football decisions and he’s got good solid opinions.”

One area where Fulham have struggled this season is in defence with individual errors costing them.

Symons added: “We always do defending work. We did last season and did big blocks of it in pre-season.

“We look at the opposition’s strengths and try and combat it. A lot of goals have come down to errors and mistakes. It can be frustrating.”

Symons on Curbishley

Fulham manager Kit Symons has opened up about Alan Curbishley’s role at the club – revealing that the former Charlton Athletic boss operates as a sounding board and source of advice to him on managerial matters.

Curbishley had a brief spell as a football consultant at Craven Cottage when Rene Meulensteen was appointed as Martin Jol’s replacement, but left Fulham when the Dutchman’s tenure as head coach was abruptly ended in February 2014. He returned to Fulham last season when Symons stepped up from running the under-21 side to replace Felix Magath and Symons is grateful to be able to tap into Curbishley’s experience:

He’s been really good. He’s vastly experienced and very down to earth. He’s been a big help to me and the staff. He’s come in to assist me with first team affairs. His level of experience is top drawer. He’s not a mentor but he’s someone I can tap in to with his experience. I can court his opinion on all football decisions and he’s got good solid opinions.

Symons admits he is working hard to solve Fulham’s defensive issues that have continued this season after his side endured the second-worst defensive record in the division last term, ahead of relegated Blackpool. He hopes that the arrivals of centre backs Tim Ream and Richard Stearman as well as Ryan Fredericks might address the problems – but confirmed regular defensive drills take place at Motspur Park.

“We always do defending work. We did last season and did big blocks of it in pre-season. We look at the opposition’s strengths and try and combat it. A lot of goals have come down to errors and mistakes. It can be frustrating.

Symons values Curbishley’s ‘massive help’

Fulham manager Kit Symons says Alan Curbishley has been “a massive help” since joining the Whites last month.

Former Charlton boss Curbishley, 57, rejoined the Championship strugglers last month in an advisory capacity.

“He has got a real assuredness and calmness about him. He fits in perfectly with what we want to do,” Symons said.

“My staff are young, diligent and hard-working. We haven’t got experience and Curbs has got that in abundance.”

Curbishley, who spent 15 years in charge at The Valley between 1991 and 2006, had a brief stint as Fulham’s technical director last season.

He left Craven Cottage in February 2014 – less than two months after his appointment – when Felix Magath became manager.

Symons took charge of Fulham following Magath’s dismissal in September. It is the Welshman’s first permanent managerial job and he says Curbishley has been able to offer him advice.

“He has got an opinion on everything but he doesn’t ram it down your throat,” the 44-year-old added.

“I’m constantly asking him his opinion on different things and he is really growing into it.

“It has only been for a short period so far but it has worked very well.”

Fulham have won one of their last seven games and are currently eight points above the relegation zone.

Curbishley’s deal at Craven Cottage runs until the end of the season but Symons says there is a chance he could extend his stay.

“He’s been laughing at me, and the stress I have been under, in the last few weeks,” Symons said.

“He’s really enjoying this role and I’m enjoying having him alongside me.

“We’ll get to the end of the season, address it, and go from there.”