2 Fulham dilemmas facing Marco Silva ahead of Preston North End match today | OneFootball
2 Fulham dilemmas facing Marco Silva ahead of Preston North End match today
Football League World
League leaders Fulham will be desperate to get back to winning ways at the weekend as they face Preston North End at Deepdale, undoubtedly going into this Saturday lunchtime kick-off as favourites.
Marco Silva’s men slipped up in midweek as they were held to a 0-0 home draw against bottom side Derby County, coming within centimetres of winning the game late on through Rodrigo Muniz but failing to make the breakthrough against the gritty Rams.
They were without star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic through illness on Wednesday night though, something that seemingly spread through the Cottagers’ camp prior to their tie against Wayne Rooney’s side and made this result more forgivable for those that were expecting a comfortable win at Craven Cottage.
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The one positive they could take from that evening was the fact title competitors AFC Bournemouth also slipped up, only being able to draw 1-1 against Millwall and that has kept the West London outfit at the top of the tree as they make the long journey to Lancashire.
This afternoon’s opponents Preston claimed a crucial 2-1 away win at Middlesbrough in their last outing, with Ched Evans and Emil Riis striking late on to take all three points and have potentially kept manager Frankie McAvoy in a job with that.
Focusing more on the visitors though ahead of kick-off at 12:30, we have selected two Fulham dilemmas Silva will need to deal with for this match.
Worth risking Mitrovic?
Speaking to The Athletic’s Peter Rutzler in his pre-match press conference, Silva revealed the Serbian was a doubt for today’s game because of the same illness that kept him out of the game in midweek, in what could be a crushing blow to their chances of getting back to winning ways.
He, along with five others currently suffering from the illness outbreak, were assessed yesterday before a final decision was reached on their availability and Cottagers fans will be praying that all six can play a part this weekend.
This puts Silva in a difficult position, because it will ultimately be the 44-year-old who makes this call.
His main forward’s wellbeing must be at the top of the club’s priorities – and the nature of his absence should mean he can return in time for a crucial top-two clash against Bournemouth next Friday.
But is it worth risking him today after seeing his side fire a blank again Derby? Bringing back a semi-fit Mitrovic to start may be a confidence blow to young forward Muniz – but the team has to come first and the 27-year-old would give them the best chance of a victory at Deepdale.
Winning today would secure their position at the top of the table ahead of their tie with Scott Parker’s men, giving them a real psychological edge going into what could be a crucial game for both sides in their quest to secure an automatic return to the Premier League.
Despite being one of the players suffering from the illness outbreak, Antonee Robinson was deemed fit enough to start against the Rams three days ago.
Helping his side to keep a clean sheet, the United States international arguably deserves to keep his place in the starting lineup, even if he still isn’t feeling 100%.
But fellow left-back Joe Bryan can count himself unlucky not to be involved more having been on the bench on Wednesday, as someone who isn’t afraid to get forward with his attacking threat and is more than capable of doing a job in the Championship.
He has made just three league starts this season – but Robinson’s current situation could be a good opportunity for the second-tier outfit’s manager to give Bryan a chance.
Should the Portuguese man risk unsettling a defence that kept a clean sheet in their last game though? That’s a question he will need to answer before the team sheets are released at 11:30 this morning.