Scott Parker has insisted Aleksandar Mitrovic’s suspension is not all “doom and gloom” as he looks to Fulham’s other attackers to “step up” in his absence.
The Championship’s joint-top scorer, with 23 goals, was forced to miss Fulham’s 2-1 derby day victory over Queens Park Rangers as he started a three-match ban for violent conduct.
Fulham suffered a nightmare start as they conceded a Jordan Hugill opener inside a minute but clawed their way back through a Harry Arter equaliser and Cyrus Christie’s stunning winner.
Parker said: “Look, there’s no hiding from the fact we’ve not got a recognised forward other than Aleks in our squad and in the building.
“The way that the players look to the structure, and the way we wanted to play tonight [Tuesday], was spot-on. I thought we had a fluidity about us, I felt that we looked a threat.
“As disappointed as we are that we lose Aleks, it’s an opportunity for other players to come to the fore.
“We are going to need those players, and attacking players in our team are going to need to step up. The Knockaerts, the Cavaleiros, the Bobby [Decordova] Reids, the Tom Cairneys in those attacking positions are going to have to step up and add to that.
“QPR played four at the back in the last two games and they put a back five or a back three in at times [on Tuesday] and they were very, very aggressive with that.
“Like always we adapted, and the way we worked over the course of the last two days gives us options to change our position a little bit and how we are going to play, because we have to. There is a different dynamic to our team.
“In saying that, it’s the dynamics which I am looking forward to as well. This is not something which is doom and gloom. We’re going to miss Aleks and what he brings to this team [but] there is another side to us now and we’re going to have to play in a different way. I know we can do that.”
Hugill opened the scoring in the west London derby when he headed home Ryan Manning’s inviting cross from the left flank.
The lead did not last long, though, as Arter managed to drill his long-range effort past Liam Kelly for the leveller on 21 minutes.
Both sides had their chances but QPR went close to adding another when Luke Amos blazed over Bright Osayi-Samuel’s cut back cross before Hugill forced a fingertip save from Marek Rodak.
Todd Kane also saw a good chance go to waste as Christie found the winner with 15 minutes to go when his powerful, angled effort flew past Kelly’s reach into the bottom-left corner.
His first-ever league goal for the club granted them all three points.
Parker said: “Cyrus, at times this year, has had to sit and wait and maybe at times has probably felt it is a bit unfair on him. But if there is one thing Cyrus deserves it’s this moment tonight [Tuesday].
“He deserves to get the winner because of his reaction to those adverse moments, which he has had at times this year.
“His reaction, his professionalism and the way he trains puts him in a position to be able to do what he did and earn that moment. I’m really pleased for Cy and pleased for the team.”
Mitrovic will also sit out Saturday’s home game against Birmingham City and the trip to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.