Martin Jol welcomes Bryan Ruiz and Mladen Petric back to his matchday squad for the trip to Wigan Athletic on Saturday (3pm).
The news regarding Mahamadou Diarra was less positive though, as our Manager explained to the gathered press on Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve got a few injuries,” he said. “Kieran Richardson is still out and he’s expected to be back in training next week.
“Kerim Frei is still injured, Simon Davies has got a problem with his hip, [Ashkan] Dejagah came from VfL Wolfsburg injured, and Diarra came back from international duty with a problem with his left knee.
“Diarra could be out for three or four weeks, but it could be even longer so we have to wait and see."
Philippe Senderos is another player still unavailable, but Jol is hopeful that he won’t have too long to wait before he has the Swiss defender at his disposal.
“I feel that after breaking his foot, Philippe needs two weeks to come back and be match fit,” he explained.
“Normally you’ve got four centre-backs and if Philippe is there then I’ve got three, and with Baird I’ve got four good centre-backs but Baird, of course, plays in midfield now. I need Philippe as soon as possible.”
One area that now provides Jol with a welcome selection headache is our frontline, with the return of Petric and Ruiz providing the stiffest of competition for Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodallega, who performed so assuredly in our last outing.
“It’s nice that we’ve got quality up front,” our Manager admitted. “Any quality striker at any club will have an influence. It’s always nice to see Hugo, to see Dimitar and Petric – who’s back from injury – and they’ve each got different qualities.
“It was a big challenge for Hugo because Petric played [the first match] and did very well. I feel that Hugo stretched West Bromwich Albion - he was a handful and, of course, we’ve got different options with Petric or Rodallega so we have to make a decision on that.
“Bryan Ruiz came back from injury so that is the other option to play with a number 10 and Berbatov, or play with two strikers. That is the big decision we have to make so it’s either Bryan Ruiz or Hugo.
“I felt that Hugo was a bit unlucky not to score [against West Brom] as he had three or four shots on goal. He had a header that hit the bar before we scored with Steve Sidwell so he’s very eager to score and he’s eager to score against his former club.”
One man certain to start is number nine Berbatov, who opened his account for the Whites with a brace on his Craven Cottage debut, and Jol went on record once again to express his delight at securing a player of the Bulgarian’s calibre.
“Dimitar was the top scorer wherever he played,” Jol said. “At Bayer Leverkusen he was top scorer and he did the same at Tottenham Hotspur. He was ahead of all the other players like Robbie Keane and [Jermain] Defoe so he’s a top player.
“Even at Manchester United he was their top scorer and, of course, they trusted him there. If you sign someone, you must trust him, otherwise you better leave it.
“I was the one who took him from Germany, from Leverkusen, and to take someone from Germany for that sort of money showed a lot of confidence in the player and I think he felt that because he had other options at that time.
“I think Berbatov could have gone to Italy [before signing for Fulham]. He was almost on the fringes of going to an Italian club and then I spoke to him and maybe that convinced him. But if he plays well, like he did the other day [against West Brom] there will always be a good relationship.”
The Whites have fared well in recent years against Wigan and Jol is hopeful that we can keep our good run going against the Latics on Saturday.
“When we last played Wigan they were on a high because they changed their system and had four wins and a draw,” the Dutchman said.
“We were the only team who beat them so hopefully we can come up with the same answers.
“Last season we managed to get four wins away from home and a couple of draws which was not good, but it wasn’t bad either. I always say that if you get five or six away wins then I think we will do well.