Martin Jol may be able to call upon Brede Hangeland’s services at Anfield on Saturday when Fulham face Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.
The Whites Captain has not featured since the 4-1 win at Crystal Palace – a game in which he was withdrawn at half-time – and the Fulham Manager will assess the big Norwegian before deciding whether or not to restore him to the starting XI.
“Brede is fine,” Jol said in his pre-match press conference. “Brede trained with us so the only thing now is we have to need to have a look on Friday to see if he’s fit enough to start.”
One man who definitely won’t return for the trip to Merseyside is the unfortunate Hugo Rodallega, who is expected to miss the majority of games in the run-up to Christmas.
“Hugo Rodallega, who had a grade II injury to his abductor muscle on his left leg, will be out for the next five, six weeks,” Jol confirmed. “And Matthew Briggs will take probably another five weeks with the surgery he had.”
Fulham take on a Liverpool side who currently occupy third spot in the Premier League table, with their defeat at Arsenal last week only their second loss of what’s been a productive season so far.
“Before the match against Arsenal they were probably at least top-four candidates,” Jol said of Saturday’s opponents. “They’ve spent a lot of money on very good players. Luis Suarez stayed and Suarez, in my opinion, is one of the best in the world, and he will prove that. I had Suarez with Ajax in Holland and he will score a lot of goals – he would have been top scorer last year if he hadn’t been suspended.
“Daniel Sturridge has had a big impact since he came to Liverpool and Philippe Coutinho will probably be back against us, and he’s talented. They have a different shape sometimes with three at the back but they’re still defensively very good and very good going forward with these top players up front.”
He continued: “They started [the season] so well that they were top of the league so, of course, you could stretch your imagination a bit and say that maybe they could be title contenders. I don’t know, but they are strong.
“They haven’t been in the top four over the last couple of years, so I think they will be going for a top four spot this year. We will try to get a result against Liverpool. We have to try to be strong and solid at the back and then try to hurt them, like we did two years ago when we beat them 1-0 away from home.”
Consecutive defeats in the league have seen Fulham drop to 16th in the table, and Jol is keen to string a few results together to get the Whites back up the standings to where the supporters want their team to be.
“If they [the fans] are disappointed I can understand that,” he said. “As long as we don’t have the results they can do it [be disappointed] with me, but hopefully they will support our team because we are not in the best of situations, but not in the worst.
“We experienced this before at this Club over the last 10 years, so hopefully we will get results. Look at Cardiff City; they were in the same position [as Fulham], then they won the derby game against Swansea City and now they’re fine. So that’s what we look for, we look for a few results. You have to start somewhere to get wins under your belt and then go from there. We need a few surprise results and maybe we can start against Liverpool.”
The game at Anfield will be the first of three sat out by full-back Sascha Riether, after the FA charged him with violent conduct following a challenge on Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj last weekend.
And while Jol would rather have his dependable defender available, he’s happy to call on Elsad Zverotić who has patiently been waiting for his First team chance.
“If he did do it deliberately, it’s fair enough he got three games,” Jol admitted. “The referee didn’t see it, I didn’t see it but they decided to give him that punishment. He apologised to the Club, to the fans, to us, of course, and it’s not what you need but we move on because we’ve got some good players in that position.