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Chalobah ruled out of Forest trip

Fulham will definitely be without Nathaniel Chalobah for Sunday’s trip to Nottingham Forest and could be missing several other key players, according to Marco Silva.

Harrison Reed was withdrawn at half time in Wednesday night’s win over Cardiff City after feeling his calf late in the first half – and head coach Silva says he will wait as late as possible before making a decision over whether the former Southampton midfield can participate at the City Ground. Both Joe Bryan and Fabio Carvalho have resumed training following their respective injuries but the Fulham boss told his pre-match press conference this afternoon that it was too soon to know whether either could be involved this weekend.

Discussing Reed’s injury, Silva said:

It’s nothing serious, but he’s not 100% fit. We have one more training session, so we have to see how all three are. How long is Chalobah out? It’s difficult to say right now. We have to wait and see.”

Silva is wary of in-form Forest, who have yet to lose since replacing Chris Hughton with Steve Cooper, who came close to being offered the Fulham job earlier this summer.

“Forest are in great, great form and have a good start under a new manager. To win as they did on Tuesday in the final minute is a real boost. But we are looking forward to the game and will prepare to win it, as we normally do.”

Reed relishing new role

Harrison Reed is ‘loving’ his new role as a box-to-box midfielder after new Fulham boss Marco Silva asked him to operate in a more advanced position this season.

The former Southampton midfielder became a crucial cog in the Craven Cottage machine after impressing as a defensively-minded presence in front of the Fulham back four, but after battling persistent injury problems that delayed his introduction into Silva’s new-look side, Reed is now being deployed as a more adventurous member of Fulham’s new-look midfield. The 26 year-old, who made his third consecutive start against QPR on Saturday, told the Athletic:

“I’m loving it. The manager spoke to me and said he’d watched my games from last season and he had seen me before and that he feels I can bring a dynamic, box-to-box side of the game to the team. He knows about my defensive side and defensive mindset, and he said he just wants to push me a little bit more and put me higher up the pitch.

It is working really well. I really enjoy playing in that position, I feel I have got a good balance with Mika. I need to start chipping in with goals and assists but I’m sure if I keep getting in the right positions and keep working on it and analysing, they will come.”

Reed rues Fulham’s lack of killer instinct

Harrison Reed was left ruing Fulham’s failure to kill off Bristol City after the Robins roared back to claim a point at Ashton Gate.

The Fulham substitute made a real impact alongside Neeskens Kebano after coming off the bench at half time to perk up a lacklustre Fulham attack. The Whites went in front four minutes after the interval through Aleksandar Mitrovic but spurned numerous chances to extend their lead and paid the penalty when Kasey Palmer turned home an equaliser with ten minutes left.

Reed told FFC TV after the final whistle:

“We’re all disappointed with that one today. We came here, we needed to show a reaction again and the slow start probably cost us today. We got going in the second half, especially in the first fifteen or twenty minutes, found ourselves a goal ahead and then we needed to kill the game.

We needed to come on, bring the energy and lift the boys. I felt like we did that. We just needed to carry on. We needed to score two or three and kill the game.”

Reed remains doubtful for Reading

Harrison Reed may miss Fulham’s meeting with Reading tomorrow after limping out of Wednesday’s win at Birmingham City.

The central midfielder made his first start of the season for the Whites at St. Andrews but was substituted midway through the second half of Fulham’s 4-1 victory having suffered a leg injury. Head coach Marco Silva told today’s pre-match press conference:

“It’s nothing serious. didn’t have much of a pre-season and he has an issue with his leg, but we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

There is better news regarding Harry Wilson, who was substituted towards the end of the Blues clash. Silva said that the Welsh winger was withdrawn due to tiredness and that he will be available to face Reading. Josh Onomah, who missed the midweek trip to the Midlands, is also fit to play.

Teenage playmaker Fabio Carvalho remains sidelined with a toe injury and Silva revealed that it is too early to say whether he will be able to return at Bristol City next weekend.

“Tuesday for Fabio looks difficult but he might be all right for the game after that.”

The Fulham boss is reading nothing in Reading’s disappointing start to the season and knows that the Royals will be determined to end their winless away run.

“Their previous results mean nothing. A team that has scored six goals in their last two performances suggest they can create chances and score goals. It will be a tough game.”

Fulham fight their way back to winning ways

If there was a perception that Fuham might prove a soft touch on their travels following the weekend defeat at Blackpool, then Marco Silva’s side dispelled it last night at St. Andrew’s. The manner of the victory was instructive. Fulham were far from in full control. Birmingham battled, slung in a succession of crosses and at times looked to be dominating the midfield battle but Lee Bowyer’s side were ultimately sunk by Fulham’s ruthlessness in front of goal.

Silva said afterwards that Harry Wilson was the first player he approached the board about after agreeing to take over from Scott Parker in the summer. It is obvious to see why. Wilson has some pedigree at this level – and totally transforms Fulham as an attacking proposition when he is in the side. A willing and intelligent runner, whose darts inside are likely to deliver plenty of goals, he can also whip in a dangerous corner – something the Whites have sorely missed in recent years. His signature move, cutting in from the right flank onto his stronger right foot, seems far less predictable that Anthony Knockaert’s and, in this irrepressible form, the Welshman appears unstoppable.

A word too on Aleksandar Mitrovic would be appopriate as the Serbian celebrates his 27th birthday. Silva insisted that Mitrovic would take Fulham’s next penalty after missing from the spot against Stoke City – and he was true to his word. Mitrovic looked much more decisive in dispatching this one into the bottom corner and put a far more convincing gloss on the scoreline as the clock ticked down. Fulham’s fourth goal owed everything to his desire to prove there’s much more to his game than merely poaching goals. He stripped Marc Roberts of possession on the halfway line, sauntered down the left flank and slipped in Jean-Michael Seri with a beautifully disguised reverse ball. When the return pass landed at his feet, you knew what was going to happen. His exclusion from a struggling side last season seems even more perplexing with each week.

Silva’s rotation probably came a few days too late but there were something interesting things to note. On his hundredth Fulham appearance, Joe Bryan gave a masterclass in how to fulfil the role of a modern full back. He was eager to get forward, as ever, but remained responsible, wary of Birmingham’s own attacking threat, at the same time. Tosin Adarabioyo was outstanding at the heart of the visiting defence – heading away countless aerial balls as the Blues took a more direct route to goal, particularly in the first half.

The clearest change came in the shape of Fulham’s midfield. The loss of Josh Onomah to injury, and Fabio Carvalho’s continued absence with a toe complaint, meant Silva would have to select different personnel in the engine room but he went with a slightly different shape to what we have seen before as well. Seri seemed to sit a deeper than in previous outings, with Harrison Reed playing slighly further forward alongside Nathaniel Chalobah, who was outstanding on his Fulham debut. The trio outnumbered Birmingham in the centre of the park and, whilst they certainly didn’t have it all their own way in what was a pretty even contest, they definitely made Fulham tougher to play through. Chalobah and Seri had notable roles in three of Fulham’s goals on a very encouraging night.

The set up of Fulham’s three central midfielders also had a knock on effect for the forward line as well. Wilson and Bobby Decordova-Reid were stationed very wide and pushed forward to join Mitrovic in attack – in an attempt to stretch Birmingham’s back three, which worked wonderfully well. It was a clear plan for this fixture, with Lee Bowyer always keen to push his wing-backs on, and the visitors got great joy down the flanks. This was one of those games where the preparation for the opposition really paid off.

The scoreline may ultimately have flattered Fulham, as Birmingham were punished for defensive lapses whilst Paulo Gazzaniga made a number of second half saves, but this was precisely the response to the Blackpool abberation that Silva would have sought. Bowyer is building a combative and competitive side and I don’t think many teams will score four at St. Andrew’s this season.