Having been eviscerated by Manchester United at Old Trafford by a 4-0 scoreline just over a week ago, Martin Jol will certainly be feeling a touch better about the visit of the league leaders to Craven Cottage after his side picked up a much-needed victory at home to West Ham in the week. That win just eased the pressure on the Cottagers and Jol himself, taking them back into mid-table in 12th position and a full eight times clear of relegation trouble.
However, the Dutchman has been hit by the news that his side’s best player against West Ham and indeed of their entire season by some distance, Dimitar Berbatov, will not take part against his former club due to a hamstring problem. The Bulgarian is added to an injury list that includes Steve Sidwell, Mahamadou Diarra, Kerim Frei and fellow former United player Kieran Richardson. However, loan-signings Urby Emanuelson and Stanislav Manolev are in line to make their debuts for the club.
Having seen their lead at the top extend to seven points in the week, Sir Alex Ferguson will know that victory at Fulham could see his side open up a 10 point gap at the top with Manchester City playing a day later.
The Scot could hand Rio Ferdinand a recall alongside Nemanja Vidic after the veteran defender was rested for the midweek win over Southampton, while fellow central defender Jonny Evans is fit again after hamstring trouble.
However, Ashley Young is still absent with a knee injury meaning Ferguson must choose between Antonio Valencia, Nani and Shinji Kagawa for the two wide roles.