BY YANN TEAR
Scott Parker will be keeping his fingers crossed that Abou Kamara recovers quickly from an ankle injury which forced him off early in Fulham’s 3-0 stroll over Derby County.
The winger stood in for suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic last Friday against QPR and was a revelation, scoring twice in a 2-1 win.
And he fully justified Parker’s decision to keep him in at the expense of Anthony
Knockaert in Tuesday night’s win against the Rams, which lifted the Whites up to third
in the table.
Kamara claimed an assist for the first goal from Bobby Reid, and set up further chances for team-mates with his powerful surges in from the flanks which terrorised the visitors.
He was also not afraid to fire in a shot at goal when he got the opportunity.
It is quite the turn-around in narrative for the controversial 24-year-old, who last season famously had a bust-up with Mitrovic during a yoga session, of all things, and clashed with the Serbian over the taking of a penalty against Huddersfield.
The temperamental Frenchman, of Mauritanian descent, ended the season in Turkey at Malatyaspor.
“I think Abou deserves a special comment really because he’s had to wait a long while to get an opportunity,” said Parker, who hopes the rolled ankle will not sideline him for long.
“His opportunity came last week, and you only take those opportunities and score two goals and perform like he did tonight if you prepare right.
“He’s trained well, put himself in a physical position and shape so that when he got his
opportunity, he’s taken it, and fair play to him. He justified being kept in.
“Tonight he assisted the first, his all-round play, his work ethic, everything about him was first class tonight and he deserves it.”
After his two-goal contribution against QPR, Parker said: “Abou’s not been a problem since I stepped into this role.
“Of course you’ve got to manage Abou differently. It’s not the same as how you manage the others.
“There’s one thing you can guarantee about Abou: He steps on the field, over that white line, he gives you everything.
“He’s a liked member of the squad. Maybe the perception on the outside’s very different to the reality, and the reality is he’s a well-respected, appreciated member of this squad.”
Mitrovic scored his 13th goal of the season in Fulham colours after his return from a one match ban and Reid’s was his first, at long last, in his 17th appearance.
He too hobbled off before the hour was out after feeling his hamstring tighten.
“We got him off early,” Parker said. “It’s not as if something’s gone bang, but at the
same time, there’s something there so we’ll assess that.
With a game just around the corner at Swansea [on Friday night] it’s touch and go.”
Speaking about Reid’s role in behind Mitrovic, Fulham’s head coach said: “Where you see Bobby Reid tonight is probably his best position.
“He’s a player who, whatever you ask of him and whatever you want him to do, he takes it on board and he delivers. He’s someone who’s always in and around it.
“It was his first goal for us tonight, but to be honest with you , it’s quite remarkable that it’s taken this long.
“He’s always in and around it. Bobby’s probably the only one in our squad who will be in those sort of areas when it’s fallen to him.
“He’s been top class since he’s come in and maybe the goals have not been there but in terms of a work ethic, mentality, he’s everything we want about our squad.”
Derby were feeble and Fulham were always in control. Parker feels his side now has momentum.
“We’ve gone and won three games on the bounce, which is massive for us,” he said.
“We were a little bit fortunate against QPR. There were big gaps in the way we played but we’ve worked on that in the last couple of days and what pleased me the most was that I saw a team of players execute a game plan tonight.
“We limited them to no shots on target and that was our base and from there obviously we had the quality to build attacks and be deadly.”
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