MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 00:52:49
Jan 6, 2019 at 2pm UK at ​Craven Cottage
Attendance: 16,134
Fulham
1-2
OldhamOldham Athletic
Odoi (52')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Surridge (76' pen.), Lang (88')

Rico is Fulham's number one – Ranieri

Rico is Fulham's number one – Ranieri
© Reuters
The Spaniard is on a season-long loan from Sevilla.

Claudio Ranieri has told Sergio Rico his position as Fulham's first-choice goalkeeper is his to keep.

The 25-year-old arrived in the summer on a season-long loan from Sevilla, but until Ranieri's appointment in November was rotated by Slavisa Jokanovic as Fabri and Marcus Bettinelli — who earned calls to the England squad — were also used.

Under Ranieri and with Rico in goal Fulham have demonstrated signs of improvement that could yet lead to them securing Premier League survival, but even if the latter is rested for Sunday's FA Cup third-round fixture with Oldham he can expect an immediate recall.

For a manager whose rotation policy has given him the nickname "The Tinkerman" that likely means an attempt to sign the Spaniard permanently should he continue to impress, and Ranieri said: "I watched Sergio Rico when I played against Sevilla (with Leicester), and for me he's a very good goalkeeper.

"When I came here I didn't want to change so many times — for me, Sergio Rico's the number one.

"I have not had the opportunity to make a friendly match, a pre-season match to see all of my players. There are some good players I don't give the chance (to yet).

"Then for this match I want to give some rest to the players involved so many times and give the chance to other players who train very well and they deserve to show their best.

"Maybe I can (also) rotate the goalkeeper (on Sunday)."

After Oldham, Fulham will visit relegation rivals Burnley in the Premier League, when victory will be essential in their attempts to climb out of the bottom three.

Ranieri has also repeatedly spoken of his players' fatigue following their demanding schedule throughout December, but even with the league their priority the Italian is not tempted to sacrifice success in the FA Cup.

"The FA Cup is a very good competition, and we want to do well, but of course, between the FA Cup and Premier League, we have to say at this moment the Premier League is more important," he said.

"But that doesn't mean we go there to make a friendly match; it's an FA Cup match and we want to win.

"It could (help our league ambitions). When you win, everything is better."


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Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri gives the thumbs up on December 5, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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