Friday night sees two West London rivals go head to head as Fulham host Queens Park Rangers at Craven Cottage, as both look to hunt down the play off pack.
Story behind the game
It looks set to be an entertaining game- QPR have conceded 30 times this season but only Preston North End and West Brom have scored more than their 26, whilst Fulham are only two behind them on 24 goals. Half of those goals for the Cottagers, however, have come from the suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic, a boost no doubt for QPR’s shaky defence. They could leapfrog their hosts with a win, whilst Scott Parker’s side would move into a play off spot if they take all three points.
Fulham have had the better of this fixture in recent times, winning three of the last five encounters, the other two results have been a QPR win and a draw in the last encounter back in March. However, without the talismanic Mitrovic, they may not fancy their chances of extending that good record quite as much.
QPR face no such worries about their firepower being diminished, with Nakhi Wells, Jordan Hugill and Eberechi Eze - 20 goals between them all, available. The question for Mark Warburton is how will his defence cope with a vibrant and fluent Fulham side?
Fulham miss the aforementioned Mitrovic through suspension, whilst Joe Bryan and Maxime Le Marchand are also doubts - the latter faces a late fitness test. There is good news in the form of Tom Cairney recovering from the illness that kept him out against Birmingham City.
QPR will be without the suspended Geoff Cameron but Yoann Barbet could return from his hamstring injury to take his place.
Likely line ups:
Fulham: Rodak Odoi, Mawson, Ream, Christie, Cairney, Reed, Johansen, Knockaert, B Reid, Cavaleiro.
QPR: Lumley, Kane, Hall, Barbet, Wallace, Manning, Amos, Ball, Eze, Wells, Hugill.
At one end, it will be whether Bobby Reid can replace the physical presence and goals of Mitrovic for Fulham. The former Cardiff City man has work rate and technical ability in abundance but has big boots to fill - though he will look at the leaky Rangers backline with interest.
At the other, Fulham, who conceded three against Hull City last time out at Craven Cottage, will have their work cut out against the little and large combo of Wells and Hugill, with the dynamic and tricky Eze supplying the ammunition for the pair.
What the managers said
Scott Parker on form and promotion hopes: “The last time we got promoted, we were struggling by Christmas but then we went on a little bit of a run. If we get a run going, we’ll be around it.”
Mark Warburton on the tough winter schedule: “This now defines the Championship, after the third international break through to the next one in March. It is full on, it’s a relentless demand for the players and we have to make sure we get the loading right.”