Jol's Sunderland Preview

Thursday 28 February 2013 14:30

Martin Jol is targeting three points against Sunderland on Saturday as Fulham bid to reach the 40-point mark as soon as possible.

Three wins will see the Whites surpass that tally and our Manager admits that he is keen to put any lingering flirtation with the relegation zone behind him.

“Like a lot of other teams, we set a target that we would like to have 40 points,” the Dutchman said in his press conference on Thursday. “Then we can relax maybe a bit more and, from then on, try to get as high up the table as possible.

“If you see the league over the last five or six years, you will see the same situation. There are three or four clubs down there but, at the end of the year, you always see one or two teams dropping into trouble.

“Wigan Athletic, for example, are almost specialists in getting out of trouble, so there will always be one or two clubs to be dragged into it and we don’t want to be one of those clubs.

“Our first target was to stay in the league because that’s important for the Club. If you look at the resources all the clubs in the Premier League get at the end of the year, it’s virtually eminent or vital for us to stay in the league. And then even 12th or 11th would be fantastic for us.”

Victory at the Stadium of Light at the weekend would see Fulham open up a six-point gap ahead of the Black Cats, and Jol stressed the importance of getting wins against the teams around us in the table.

“Of course the Chelsea game has been postponed so I think that is a problem as we now probably won’t have a home game in March,” he explained. “We will have to play three games possibly in six or seven days and that is not what you like.

“If you look at the games that we should get the points from, Reading and Sunderland for example, hopefully we will get the points from the teams who are in a similar position to us, or below us.”

Jol continued: “I felt that although we started [the season] well, Sunderland didn’t have the best of starts. But they had a good run of games and are now in the same situation as us.

“We’ve said before games a couple of times that we need this win – before West Ham United, before Newcastle United and before Stoke City - and we managed to get these nine points so we were ever so pleased to be in that situation.

“But, on the other hand, if we stay on 32 points we will be in trouble anyway, and Sunderland are in a similar situation. They play at home [on Saturday] and, of course, it is not easy to go there because it’s a noisy crowd.

“But I think we have done okay away from home lately and, hopefully, we can capitalise on our possession game and our football, because we didn’t do that at Norwich City and hopefully we can do that now and get a result and stay above them.”

Jol also provided an injury update ahead of the trip to Wearside, with Mahamadou Diarra the only man still on the treatment table.

“We had a good training week,” he said. “Diarra had a little setback a week ago and, hopefully, he will be fine in the next three weeks but I can’t have a guarantee from my medical staff so that is a problem for him and a problem for us.

“After his operation we thought he was better, he thought he was better, then he felt this aching pain.

“That’s it [for injuries] so we are doing quite well on that front. Kieran Richardson was injured and now he’s been back over the last two weeks and he will be involved in the squad, so we will have to wait and see if he starts or if he’s on the bench.

“He’s a versatile player, he can play on the left, he can play in midfield and he can play left-back. And I feel that he should be – not could be – a terrific left-back because he did that before.

“He had a good season with Steve Bruce [at Sunderland] as a left-back but then he played a bit differently so if you give him the licence to express himself I think he will be good as a left-back, but he will be good in midfield as well.”