Fulham boss Martin Jol will welcome instrumental forwards Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov back to his matchday squad for the trip to Manchester City on Saturday (3pm) after resting the pair in midweek.
Steve Sidwell is also set to return after missing our last two matches through injury, although a couple of First Team regulars remain unfit.
“Regarding injured players, the news is that [Mahamadou] Diarra is still out and Kerim Frei is still out, and that is probably it,” Jol explained in his press conference. “[Mladen] Petrić had a little problem but, hopefully, on Friday he will train with us and then go to Manchester.”
The press quizzed our Manager on his relationship with full-back John Arne Riise following recent speculation in the media, but Jol was quick to quash any rumours.
“My relationship with John was fantastic and it’s still good,” he said. “But it’s the same all the time in England; if the player is not playing then people assume the reason was a bust-up, but I never had a bust-up with any player.
“I have good conversations with players and I had a good conversation with him on Thursday morning again, and there’s no problem. The only thing is that I wanted to change a couple of things after the Liverpool game and that is what we did so he will fight for his place, like any other player will do if he isn’t playing.”
The speculation regarding Riise’s contentment at the Club intensified following alleged quotes made by his brother Bjorn Helge. However, Jol explained that the former Fulham winger had since been in touch to assure the Club that he had made no such comments.
“I haven’t seen what Bjorn said but he came back to us and he was almost crying because it was not true,” Jol said. “I had a fantastic relationship with him even though he was not playing [last season] so he said that he didn’t say anything and I will take his word for it.”
Talking to fulhamfc.com, Bjorn Helge Riise said: “I am so angry with quotes that have been attributed to me, because I did not speak badly about Martin Jol or about the Club’s players.
“I enjoyed every minute of being at Fulham and, even though I didn’t play much under Martin, I had a great relationship with him and have been back to visit. Quotes trying to cause trouble for me are just to get headlines in Norway. I have been in touch with Martin and apologised for this happening.”
The Whites travel to the Etihad on Saturday and, while our Manager would prefer to take on the Barclays Premier League champions on the back of a run of wins in the league, he still promises his side will do their best to come home with a result.
“It would be better to get the points against the Wigan Athletics and Southamptons of this world,” he admitted. “We got two draws [in those matches] so that was disappointing because you can’t expect a team like Fulham to rack up six points against Manchester United and Man City, so every point will be a bonus and we will fight for every point.
“City are out of Europe and they can still live with it as they can focus on the league now. I think that is one of the advantages that they have got over other teams like Manchester United.
“We are still unbeaten in January. We won two away games, which was good; against West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool. We got two draws against Blackpool and Wigan – so our form is not alarming.
“The only thing is that if you compare us with last season we had an unbelievable spell after Christmas where, if the league had lasted for six months, we would have been in the top five.”
Jol was also asked the inevitable questions regarding transfer business at the Club, but the Dutchman remained tight-lipped as to any potential deals.
“There is no transfer news,” he said. “You can always talk about names but I won’t speculate. There is a lot of speculation in the papers but 95 per cent isn’t true or [the player is] too expensive.
“Sometimes you get close [to completing a deal] and sometimes you are far away and that happens a couple of times but we still try to be stronger at the end of this month than we are now.
“We would like to have one or two players in the next couple of weeks but, if not, I feel that we are strong enough to get points.”