Martin Jol will have several players back at his disposal for Saturday’s match with Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage (3pm).
Mark Schwarzer, Mladen Petrić, Damien Duff and John Arne Riise all missed last weekend’s draw with Blackpool but our Manager expects the quartet to return for the visit of the Latics.
“Everyone is back but we’ve still got Mahamadou Diarra out,” he told the gathered press on Friday afternoon. “He came back from Mali after he failed a medical check so he will still be out for us as well. We don’t know how long Mahamadou will be out for. He’s been out for the last four weeks so it could be another couple of weeks.
“Kerim Frei has a problem with his pelvis so he will be out as well. There is one other little thing and that is that Steve Sidwell could be out on Saturday with a hamstring injury.”
The clash with Roberto Martinez’s side gives Fulham the opportunity to secure back-to-back Barclays Premier League wins for the first time since September – which incidentally came against West Bromwich Albion and Wigan – and Jol stressed the importance of continually getting points on the board.
“All these games are important,” he said. “We lost a few points that we shouldn’t have. If you look at Southampton, for example, we lost two points in the 93rd minute against them away and we lost a penalty kick [at home] so we lost four points against Southampton, and that is one club.
“I feel that the home games, with our home record over the years, should be a lot better and that is why we need wins. We started [winning again] against West Brom. We repaired some damage with the three points away from home and, hopefully, we can do the same again against Wigan because they’re one of the bottom clubs at the moment.
“We’ve got home games against Reading and Queens Park Rangers, for example, and if we can manage to have wins against these teams then we will be fine.”
“We don’t have a lot to spend, to be honest, so we have to be very creative,” he explained. “You want two good players in each position and we haven’t had that over the last five or six months so, of course, we would like to strengthen.
“I think we’ve got two more points than we had at the same stage last season so, hopefully, if everyone comes back from injury, and with one or two additions in the transfer market, then we will be fine.”
One piece of business that is expected to go through is the departure of right-back Stephen Kelly to Reading.
“Stephen went for a medical to Reading,” Jol said. “I expect him to join them on a permanent deal now. I thought it was good for him because he wanted to play and he played almost all the games last year so I thought it was good for him to talk to Reading. They decided to take him and he decided to go there.”
Aside from Kelly’s imminent move, Jol does not expect any more of his squad to leave SW6 this month.
“We won’t lose players,” he said. “With [Mousa] Dembélé he had a clause and I could do nothing about it and [Clint] Dempsey you all know what happened.
“But there is not one single player who could go in this transfer window. The only player is Stephen Kelly. Never say never, but the players I want to keep here will be here after the 31st.”
One man whose future is regularly commented upon by the media is Captain Brede Hangeland, but our Manager remains confident that he will commit his future to the Club.
“There is a contract, an offer, and the only thing left is for him to accept it,” he explained. “I’m very hopeful that he will but that is what I said two months ago. But I’m still very hopeful.
“And there are other players who are in different situations with clauses so if they play 20 or 25 games they will automatically get an extension [to their contract] so there are different situations with most of the players. Brede only has five or six months to go so we are trying to do everything we can to keep Brede.”