Fulham missed a golden chance to secure a direct qualification to the Premier League as they faltered in their final league game of the season. Their second-placed rivals Cardiff City are through even though they drew against Reading as the Cottagers were beaten 3-1 by Birmingham City. Slaviša Jokanović will have to inspire his men again and make sure that they aren’t still reeling from their previous defeat as they will have to be at their best against a very resilient Derby County side.
The Rams secured the sixth spot on the last day of the season as they went past Barnsley with ease. However, they will have to be at their best against the Cottagers as they have looked formidable for the most part of the season. Fulham were in the playoffs last year as well but they were beaten in the semifinal by Reading. However, this time around, they are in much better form and one can say they are probably the favourites to qualify for the Premier league but in a knockout encounter, all the form of the league games goes out of the window and the result comes down to who turns up the heat on that particular day.
There are no injury concerns for the Serbian manager and he will have a full squad to choose from for this crucial first leg encounter. Matt Targett, the Fulham left-back is expected to recover from his ankle injury and start.
Here is how Slaviša Jokanović’s side will most likely lineup.
Marcus Bettinelli is expected to start in goal and the Englishman has done well when called upon. He has managed 12 clean sheets in the 26 games which he has played in the Championship. The Fulham manager will go in with the tried and tested back four. Matt Targett was substituted at halftime in the previous encounter but we expect him to shrug off the ankle injury and to start in this all-important clash.
Denis Odoi and Tim Ream will form the centre-back pairing and their job will be to stop Cameron Jerome and company. The experienced Ryan Fredericks will start from the right to complete the back four.
Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johansen will start in the middle of the park and they will be shielding the defence and along with that, their job will be to keep things ticking in midfield. All eyes will be on the impressive Ryan Sessegnon and everyone will like to see whether he can come up with the goods on a big stage. Tom Cairney will likely to start in the number 10 role and Lucas Piazon will start down the right flank.
The on-loan striker, Aleksandr Mitrovic will be leading the line for Cottagers.