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Wilson wants to keep winning run going

In-form winger Harry Wilson has urged his Fulham team-mates to keep their winning run going when his former club Derby County come to Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.

Marco Silva’s side have won seven league matches in a row after beating Barnsley 4-1 on Saturday and Wilson told FFCTV this afternoon that maintaining that fine form after the international break was a key focus for the players:

“It was great. Obviously the international break, I think last time round we slipped up the result after so we were desperate this time round to not let them happen again. We knew we were in fantastic form before the break. We were determined to continue that. To get back on Saturday, put in a good performance and get a good win, we’re obviously all delighted with that.”

Wilson scored his sixth goal of an impressive season at Craven Cottage and believes his form has improved in the last few matches.

“I think my numbers have picked up in the last couple of games, which has obviously been great for me. I am hard on myself. I just want to make sure that I’m improving my numbers each game. I know with the quality that people have got in this team – especially Mika – if I make them runs nine times out of ten, I’m going to be found. The pass was perfect and I was happy to finish it off.”

The winger, who laid on a goal for Neeskens Kebano, almost created another for Kenny Tete after a spellbinding piece of skill along the byline.

“I think to play a one-two with Hec and I thought he was going to turn and I half stopped. As the ball ran free, I managed to get there and I felt that was the only way I was going to keep it in. To do a little skill and then to pick Kenny out, unfortunately he wasn’t able to finish it but we know if we keep creating chances in this team the players in the box are going to finish them off.”

Wilson has fond memories of a season spent on loan at Pride Park earlier in his career – when his outstanding individual displays helped Derby reach the play-off final – and won’t be taking Wayne Rooney’s side lightly on Wednesday, despite the fact that the Rams sit bottom of the table after two points deductions for financial irregularities.

“I loved my time there from start to finish. I finished on a bit of sour note losing the play-off final but my experiences there, I’ve got nothing but fond memories. The fans, the way they treated me, the support they gave me was unbelievable and the team we had. I made friends for life and people that I still keep in contact with now. I’ve got nothing but happy memories from that place.

To see a club that you feel so strongly for being in the situation they’re in, is obviously sad. I watched their game yesterday, they’ve still got a fantastic team and more than capable of picking up another points. It is going to be a very, very difficult task for them to stay up but I think the players and the manager have got to stay positive and show the fans that they are fighting for the badge. Who knows what will happen come the end of the season?

He knows that Derby will be desperate to prove a point to the rest of the division and follow up Sunday’s sensational win over Bournemouth with another big scalp.

“Definitely. They’ve got nothing to lose. No one’s backing them to stay up and they’ll want to prove everything wrong. It’s up to us to keep our good run going and a win on Wednesday sets us up nicely for the weekend.”

Fluent Fulham are in the driving seat

Derby’s thrilling – and at times scarcely believable – victory over Bournemouth this afternoon capped off the perfect weekend for Marco Silva. Fulham’s position at the top of the Championship, claimed courtesy of battering Barnsley at Craven Cottage yesterday, was consolidated after the Cherries’ untimely slip-up at Pride Park this afternoon and it is fitting reward for the Whites’ wonderful run of wins saw they capitulated alarmingly at Coventry at the start of last month.

Silva’s adherence to his attacking principles stands in stark contrast to the way Scott Parker steered Fulham up from the Championship and then surrendered that hard earned top flight status with barely a whimper at the tail end of last season. Where there once was caution, now there is an embrace of adventure. This was shown in Fulham’s starting line-up yesterday: every member of a frightening front four scored against Barnsley and Silva’s improvement of each goalscorer has been tangible since August.

You can’t always sweep every opponent away with fluent football – although Fulham are certainly giving it a good go at the moment. They can graft for the three points too, as evidenced in the narrow win at Peterborough before the international break, and had to battle through a poor first twenty minutes yesterday where Barnsley began on the front foot and the hosts’ passing was pretty patchy. But when the artisans get half a yard, the marriage of movement, technique and the pace of play is pretty mesmorising.

We have probably all run out of superlatives to wrap around Aleksandar Mitrovic at this point. The Serbian striker’s importance to club and country can’t be understated and the way he guided that header home to give Fulham the lead after barely having a kick for the first twenty minutes showed just how deadly he can be. Note too the contribution of the returning Kenny Tete, whose devilish deliveries from right back can be a crucial weapon in the second half of the season.

Some supporters voiced concern over whether Fabio Carvalho would be fully committed after declining two Fulham offers to extend his contract. The talented teenager allayed all of those fears with a sparkling display that saw demonstrate him a desire to defend from the front – twice tracking back before delivering immaculate sliding tackles after losing the ball – as well as all the silky skills that we have come to appreciate. His goal, that saw him dart inside from the left flank and swap passes with Mitrovic before slotting home, was a work of art that offered breathing space ten minutes before half time. The only black mark on his afternoon was that galling miss at the death after Mitrovic had offered him an open goal – but such was Fulham’s dominance by this point, it was merely academic.

That Carvalho can effortlessly drift out to either flank from a central position gives the opposition’s overworked full backs another nightmare to contend with. Nobody would relish the prospect of trying to shackle Harry Wilson or Neeskens Kebano. Wilson has already proven his quality at this level and he delivered another high-class display yesterday, full of energy and invention as well as one magical moment when he somehow slalomed his way along the byline to carve out a chance for Mitrovic when the dimensions of the pitch and gravity appeared against him. The Welshman has been simply wondrous this season – and got his reward by adding the fourth goal mere minutes after Barnsley had ended Marek Rodak’s run of clean sheets.

Arguably Silva’s strongest influence in his four months in charge can be seen in the consistency of Neeskens Kebano. The Congolese winger could have been forgiven for thinking he might be seeking pastures new in the summer when a managerial change followed his loan spell at Middlesbrough. But Kebano seized an early opportunity to impress with a virtuoso performance at Millwall and earned his spot in the side after more outstanding outings. He is playing at the top of his game, relishing the prospect of terrorising full backs, and has been delivering high quality crosses for Mitrovic to pounce upon. Kebano’s finishing has gone up a notch as well – something he works hard on at Motspur Park – and he rounded off a man of the match performance with a lovely volley that put the Whites well clear yesterday.

The strength of the squad at Silva’s disposal is illustrated by the fact that he was able to summon Jean Michael Seri, whose redemption since the Portuguese head coach’s arrival has been the story of the summer, from the substitutes bench. The Ivorian midfielder didn’t waste any time in demonstrating his class. Seri found Carvalho with a beautifully cushioned first touch, spread the play out to Wilson with a wondrous crossfield pass, and bettered it with a glorious outside of the foot ball over the top of the Barnsley defence for Wilson to make it four. Simply sensational.

Fulham are a joy to watch again under Silva – with the high-tempo football, built around a commitment to crisp, precise passing, already mirroring the tremendous technical play that characterised the Tigana promotion team of two decades ago. This division has plenty of twists and turns ahead – just ask Wednesday’s opponents Derby – but Fulham have the potential to be ferocious front runners.

Seri scores as Ivory Coast set up qualification showdown

Jean Michael Seri scored as the Ivory Coast set up a qualification showdown with Cameroon by beating Mozambique 3-0 this evening.

The Fulham midfielder rounded off an impressive display by firing home a low shot after a lovely piece of skill to move to the top of Group D. Seri slotted home from a clever cross from substitute Yohan Boli in the final minute of normal time after goals from Max-Alain Gradel and Maxwel Cornet had given the Elephants a comfortable lead. The Ivory Coast shrugged off both the loss of Wilfred Zaha and home advantage after their final qualifiers were switched to Benin because of a poor playing surface to take a huge step towards progression tonight.

The Ivory Coast’s convincing victory means they move a point ahead of Cameroon, who they face in the final round of group fixtures on Tuesday. Only the winners of the group progress to third round, which consists of five two-legged play-offs to decide which sides qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next winter. Tonight’s result means that Seri and the Ivory Coast will only need a point to make it through.

Seri named in Ivory Coast squad

Fulham midfielder Jean Michael Seri has been named in the Ivory Coast squad for their decisive World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique and Cameron this month.

The 30 year-old, who has been a revelation since being reintegrated in Fulham’s first team under new head coach Marco Silva, has 31 senior caps to his name for his country. The Ivory Coast has currently top of qualifying Group D with ten points but face critical games against Mozambique and second-placed Cameron, with the Indomitable Lions currently just one point behind. Those two sides will face off in a crunch clash in Yaoundé on November 16. The winners will progress to the play-off round for the right to reach Qatar.

Seri, who has made fifteen league appearances for Fulham this season and contributed four assists, could miss as many as six club fixtures should he – as expected – be included in the Ivory Coast’s squad for the rescheduled Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to run from 9 January to 6 February in Cameroon.

Seri seeks to repay Fulham faithful

Jean Michael Seri wants to repay the Fulham fans for their faith in him by leading the Whites back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The Ivorian international has been in revelation since being reintroduced to the Fulham midfield by new boss Marco Silva and told FFCTV this afternoon of his delight at being back involved in the first team:

“I am trying to give my best every game. I know that it is not easy, it is tough. We play every three or four days. I’m trying to give my best to my team mates and my partner to get them in a good situation. I want to play good football. Since the manager came here, he tried to explain to us how he wanted to play and I am trying to do that.

“It was not a good situation for me to go on loan every time – the first one with Galatasaray and then Bordeaux. I wanted to be on the team, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. This year I’m very happy to be here, I am happy to help the team score a lot of goals and I’m really enjoying it.”

Seri admitted he was surprised to have become the subject of his own song so soon after returning to the Fulham side and says the adoration of the Fulham faithful is a huge personal motivation for him as he tries to reignite his career in England.

I’m very grateful. I didn’t expect that – for me it wasn’t a great moment before, I wanted to improve more and more but since I started against Huddersfield, they started to be behind me. I was confused. I asked Neeksens: ‘Is my name there?’ And he said, ‘Yes. It’s your name’. When I saw the game again, I realised it was for me. I’m very grateful. It is a big motivation for me. I will give it all to not disappoint them, to stay at this level and to be back in the Premier League.

Despite an outstanding individual display in the victory over Queens Park Rangers at the weekend, a modest Seri downplayed the song’s suggestion that he was better than French gift Zinedine Zidane:

“No, no, no. I try sometimes to break the lines of the opponent. Bobby ran in a good way, so I passed the ball. I saw yesterday it was very tight. I took the right decision at the right moment and the ball goes through. I have to think quickly and fast. In this league, it is very tough and intensive, so you if you don’t think quickly you will be in trouble.”