Claudio Ranieri is not reading too much into the absence of Wilfried Zaha ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
The forward has been one of Roy Hodgson’s star performers this season but will miss our game at the weekend after being sent off at Southampton on Wednesday.
“Zaha is a very good player but they have other very, very good players and Roy can choose his lineup very well,” Ranieri said. “There are so many good players there. Crystal Palace is not only Zaha. He’s one of their best players, but it’s not only him.”
Spirits are high at Motspur Park this week following the 4-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, but Ranieri’s attentions immediately turned to what will be another testing encounter in SE25.
“We have to think about a new match, another London derby,” he stated. “It will be very difficult because it’s a good team.
“They have a fantastic manager. Roy has had an unbelievable career. We have to be very, very, very concentrated in this match.
“It’s crucial for us. Every match for us is crucial at this point. Every match is a battle, every match we have to show our best to stay together and play with the right discipline and try to score goals, without conceding goals.”
When Ranieri was reminded in his pre-match press conference that Fulham are the only side without an away Premier League win, he replied: “Statistics are fantastic because you can see behind you and say, ‘come on, wake up,’ and try to improve the statistic.
“The [most important] statistic is just at the end of the season. Of course without a victory [away from home] it’s important for us to show another good match. We’ve worked very, very hard these last two days to do our best.”
Tuesday’s comeback victory saw Aleksandar Mitrović take his tally for the season into double figures, and his Manager has never underestimated the striker’s importance to the Whites.
“I think if Fulham is in the Premier League it’s because everybody worked so hard, but Aleksandar scored the goals,” he explained. “Without a goalscorer you achieve nothing.
“Mitrović was important last season and he will also be very, very important for the rest of the season for us, for his teammates, because when he’s on the pitch you feel maybe Aleksandar can score a goal, maybe Aleksandar can do something good.”