13 goals scored, 0 conceded from our three pre-season games this summer. Remarkable, considering the defensive issues that we faced last season and yet Fulham have managed to find a balance at both ends of the field.
While, the first two victories were against Irish opponents (5-0 v Cobh Ramblers & 3-0 Cork City), Fulham cruised to a 5-0 victory over Championship rivals, Preston North End in today's friendly which was held behind closed doors - a side that Fulham drew 1-1 against at home, and beat 2-1 away from last season. A vast improvement in just a matter of months, and this wasn't a reserve Preston side, arguably very close to what they will start the season with - which included former Fulham midfielder, Ben Pringle.
Team against Preston:
1st Half: Bettinelli, Stearman, Ream, Madl, Sessegnon, Tunnicliffe, (Unsigned) Faurlin, Ayité, Cairney, Aluko, Woodrow.
2nd Half: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Stearman, Ream, Sessegnon, De La Torre, Adeniran, (Unsigned) Faurlin, Christensen, Humphrys, Smith.
Noticeably, former QPR midfielder, Ale Faurlin featured heavily throughout the game, as he started both halves of the game and according to reports, had a big impact playing in a more advanced midfield role. While, Ryan Sessegnon impressed and claimed an assist for one of the goals, Fulham fans must remember that the left-back is only 16 years of age. Therefore, he won't be able to sign a professional contract just yet, and despite interest from Arsenal back in January, the coaching staff at Fulham rate the England U17 defender highly. While, he may have impressed throughout pre-season, a place in the side may come too soon for optimistic fans, as it is vital that Sessegnon, Humphrys and Adeniran's development is managed and ensuring that their feet are kept firmly on the ground, avoiding media speculation and early hype that may emerge. But, with their emergence around the first-team, Fulham fans could start to see the next group of youth players that will have an impact on the senior side - similar to the likes of Moussa Dembele, Patrick Roberts & Emerson Hyndman. A healthy future awaits Sessegnon, Humphrys and Adeniran but it is vital their progression isn't rushed and that they are developed and managed with extra care and attention.
What pre-season has also highlighted, is Matt Smith's impact on the side and potential role for next season. The former Leeds striker has featured in all three games, and has got his name on the scoresheet in all three fixtures. Despite the striker being easily stereotyped due to his height and build, Smith continues to display the vast amount of qualities he possesses', intelligently linking the play and being more than comfortable with the ball at his feet rather than only being a 'target man'. With the future of Ross McCormack still in doubt according to the media, strong pre-season performances from Smith, Woodrow & Humphrys could bulldoze their way into Jokanovic's plans for next season.
Finally, it looks like the deal is complete to sign Lokeren defender, Denis Odoi with the deal expected to be announced this week. In other news, Fulham have been linked with a swap deal involving Jazz Richards and Cardiff City defender, Scott Malone. While, both players have split opinion at their clubs, a fresh start for them both could be just what they need. Despite, Malone failing to impress me with displays, I will only cast judgement on his ability when he is settled in a Fulham shirt. Although, I'd love to see a move for James Husband occur on a permanent basis, I do believe that the signings of Odoi and Malone would end any interest we may have had in a potential transfer for our former loanee.
This is the rumoured Fulham shirt for next season (Credit to Twitter user: @HarryFremantle) click here to view.
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Thank you ever so much for reading - Please feel free to contact me on Twitter @ABronsSmith