Jol expecting tough test

  • Last Updated: November 17 2012, 14:10 GMT

Fulham may have a tough run of fixtures coming up but manager Martin Jol is refusing to look ahead of what he expects to be a difficult match against Sunderland on Sunday.

Martin Jol: Focused on the clash with Sunderland

The Dutchman's second season at the helm has started well and his side come into this weekend's fixtures ninth in the table.

The Cottagers are in the midst of a five-match unbeaten streak and will be looking to continue that against Martin O'Neill's side, before facing difficult trips to Stoke and Chelsea.

Jol's former club Tottenham and then Newcastle come to Craven Cottage immediately afterwards but Sunday is the only thing the Whites boss is concerning himself with.

He said: "First we have to play this game, you know?

"They have six draws - four draws away from home in six games - so it is not an easy one.

"They conceded less goals probably than any other team in the league so they are well organised and they've got the likes of James McClean and Steven Fletcher.

"Stephane Sessegnon had a great season last year and Adam Johnson won't have been cheap. He's one of the bigger talents in England. Up front they've got quality so it won't be a walkover.

"We have to be aware of the fact they can hurt any other team, especially away from home because they didn't pick up the points but four draws out of six games is not great but is not bad either."

Fulham's match with Sunderland is the only Premier League match on Sunday, irking some fans who would prefer a traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off.

Jol, though, insists there are benefits of the match's timing.

"I was a bit surprised but on the other hand sometimes after international week it's okay if you play on Sunday," he said.

"It probably is a little advantage for us and for them as we had quite a few players again on international duty. It's nothing to complain about."

The extra day will also give Jol more time to think about how to set-up his midfield, with a number of key players absent.

Mahamadou Diarra and Mickael Tavares are major doubts through injury, while Simon Davies and Chris Baird are definitely out of contention.

Jol knows he has to "come up with a solution" to his central midfield conundrum but does not have to look hard to find a replacement for Kieran Richardson on the left wing.

The 28-year-old misses out against his former club with a hamstring injury picked up in last weekend's 3-3 draw at Arsenal and could be replaced by highly-rated Sweden international Alex Kacaniklic.

Jol said: "[Hugo] Rodallega of course is here and can play on the left but with Kaca after one or two good games they selected him for Sweden so that was helpful for him, not for us.

"I saw his game with Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] up front with him on the left against England and I have to say he is developing in a very typical left-sided player. I am happy he is here."


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