Four games into pre-season and Fulham have kept the same amount of clean sheets as they did during the entire 2015/2016 season.
Fulham have been incredibly impressive over the pre-season to date, winning all four games scoring 16 goals in the process and are yet to concede in the four games they have played. Interestingly so, Fulham have been scoring freely without their star striker, Ross McCormack who has been absent from the pre-season squads for many different reasons. With Cauley Woodrow, Matt Smith, Floyd Ayite and Sone Aluko racking up the goals and assists, it seems that should Fulham lose their talismanic striker, the club would be in safe hands for the upcoming season.
Last night, Fulham comfortably beat Brighton 3-0 as the game was hosted at Aldershot. An impressive feat, considering that Brighton were a side that narrowly lost out on automatic promotion and beat us 5-0 earlier in the season.
Fulham side V Brighton (19th July 2016 7:45pm):Bettinelli (Button 46'); Fredericks (Sessegnon 17'), Kalas, Ream (Madl 46'), Odoi (Stearman 72'); Christensen (Tunnicliffe 46'), Parker (Cairney 46'), Edun (Adeniran 61'), Floyd Ayité (de la Torre 61'); Sone Aluko (Humphrys 61'), Woodrow (Matt Smith 46').
With Denis Odoi entering the side, the Belgian saw his playing time split between both sides of the defence as the game progressed, with Ryan Fredericks picking up an early injury and then young Sessegnon coming on at left-back. Despite the positional switch, the new signing played with his heart on his sleeve, and that desire helped the team press Brighton all over the pitch. This high-tempo approach to the game seems to be the gameplan for Slavisa Jokanovic for the upcoming season, with his transfer dealings focused on an injection of pace.
Once again, Ryan Sessegnon had a massive impact on the game, with the 16 year old finishing a beautiful team move to make it 2-0 just after the break. While Sessegnon is amongst the rising talents of pre-season, fans must keep a lid on their optimism, with the player still only 16 years old, rushing his development into the first-team could halt his future, but should Ryan continue these levels of performances, Jokanovic could call him up to the side for a competitive game sooner rather than later. With Arsenal reportedly interested in a move for the youngster, his emergence around Fulham isn’t going to go unrecognised. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the contracts that can be given to these youngsters at the moment, so remember we can’t sign them up to 5 year deals just yet! But, it is very promising to see the next set of bright talents getting the chance to play and train with the senior side. That experience around the side will only boost their confidence and speed up their learning and understanding of the modern game.
With Fulham linked with a move for Manchester United youngster, James Wilson, competition for the starting striker spot heats up. With Cauley Woodrow and Matt Smith in fine form during pre-season, Wilson wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter should he arrive at Craven Cottage in the next few weeks. The potential positive of James Wilson would be that the loan could lead to a permanent signing the following summer, and with Wilson being versatile enough to play anywhere across a front three - his arrival would provide back-up options should Aluko/Ayite need a rest due the demanding schedules of Championship football.
To conclude, it seems that a deal for Ale Faurlin could be dead in the water with the Argentine not being included in the latest pre-season squad and rumours that he picked up another injury during a recent training session. With the Argentine playmaker struggling to prove his fitness, his agent has reportedly opened talks with other clubs. While, Faurlin would have been an exciting addition - Jokanovic’s high press tactics could prove a tough ask for the injury-prone midfielder, which could force Fulham to spend their resources elsewhere.
And for those who follow Fulham’s youth players a little more than others, former Fulham starlet, Jordan Evans has joined Bristol Rovers on trial following a successful loan spell at Oxford United last season and I hope he secures a long-term deal at the newly promoted side.
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