Riots, hopefully at least, shall be of little concern when Fulham play host to Crusaders of Northern Ireland on Thursday evening, much in contrast to the first leg where many worries were fielded about the sectarian violence taking place in the country. Of course, no malice actually came to fruition last week, other than that of a distressing Crusaders goal, and the same can be expected of the return tie at Craven Cottage.
For the home fans at least, this shall be perceived as nothing more than a meagre friendly, with a 3-1 aggregate lead already assured and home advantage most likely dampening any Crusaders resistance. Instead, the match will speak of new beginnings for the watching faithful, with John Arne Risse set to feature and a host of young players perhaps being given the opportunity to prove their fledging worth in competitive action. Kerim Frei, for example, is particularly enjoying the limelight after his first start in the white of Fulham: "I feel proud that I played 90 minutes [last week]. The manager gave me a chance again. I'm very pleased; it's my first full game so I'm quite positive."
The aforementioned 3-1 lead is, yet again, quite telling of how the first leg unfolded, with Crusaders, on occasion at least, causing us certain problems. However, the might of the Premier League did prevail and the scoreline is a true reflection upon what was a decent all round performance. Again, it did perhaps take a Danny Murphy penalty to truly set Fulham apart, but penalties are a just reward for consistent pressure.
Theoretically, Jol will have little with which to motivate the team he picks on Thursday, so a ravishing performance cannot be wholeheartedly expected. Though given some youthful exuberance and some fresh starters, maybe a presentation of distinction can be gratefully offered.
Clint Dempsey and Carlos Salcido still remain doubts to play competitive action due to their involvement in the Gold Cup over the Summer. Indications show that they have returned but are being offered an extended rest. News on Moussa Dembele's injury has yet to be updated, but it's unlikely he'll feature in any way tomorrow evening.
Score Prediction: Fulham (5)2 - 0(1) Crusaders
Predicted Line-up: Schwarzer; Briggs, Hangeland, Hughes, Kelly; Frei, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff; Zamora, Johnson