How will the Cottagers line-up ahead of the EFL Championship play-off final? 10/11 spots are seemingly set in stone, while one could become a question mark.
Fulham Football Club is really strong, but we already knew this. Up and down the pitch the Cottagers have a plethora of powerful options to choose from. However, barring the unforeseen, 10 out of the 11 places in Slaviša Jokanovic’s starting XI look set in stone.
The right wing position is the only spot that differed between Fulham’s two legs against Derby County in the semi-finals. Floyd Ayité started the opener whereas 23-year old Aboubakar Kamara was selected to help with a 1-0 deficit. The London-based side have no injury news ahead of Saturday’s play-off final, so let’s get to it.
Fulham Expected Starting XI (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Odoi, Ream, Targett; McDonald, Johansen, Cairney; Kamara, Mitrovic, Sessegnon.
Substitutes: Button (GK), Kalas, Christie, Norwood, Fonte, Ayité, Piazon.
In goal, Marcus Bettinelli fought-off veteran David Button to retain the number one shirt. In terms of timeshare, Bettinelli started roughly 2/3 of Fulham’s league matches on the season. The backline, a strength, has a pair of names that perhaps unexpectedly exceeded expectations.
25-year old right back Ryan Fredericks is a stud, as is American Tim Ream in central defense. Left back Matt Targett, on-loan from Southampton since January, took over Ryan Sessegnon’s position as the teenager pushed farther forward. The bigger surprise, however, is Dennis Odoi taking over for Tomas Kalas in central defense. Often maligned by Fulham fans, Odoi scored the winning goal that sent the club through to the final.
In midfield, Kevin McDonald shields, while Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney orchestrate. In terms of pure production, few midfielders in the EFL Championship can match the pair’s production. Cairney scored five and assisted another five goals in an injury-shortened season. Johansen, one of the league’s unheralded stars, scored eight and assisted nine across nearly 4,000 first-team minutes.
As for the attack, it’s the Ryan Sessegnon and Aleksandar Mitrovic show. If Fulham score on Saturday, it’s likely coming from these two players. Mitrovic, freshly named in Serbia’s FIFA World Cup squad, scored 12 times in 1,563 minute since joining in January.