MX23RW : Sunday, April 21 12:50:23| >> :600:105932970:105932970:
Dec 12, 2015 at 3pm UK at ​Craven Cottage
Attendance: 19,411
Tarkowski (40' og.), Dembele (64')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Judge (18' pen.), O'Connell (71')

Preview: Fulham vs. Brentford

Sports Mole takes a look at the preparations of Fulham and Brentford ahead of Saturday's West London derby at Craven Cottage.

Stuart Gray will take charge of Fulham as they look to end a poor run against West London rivals Brentford at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

Still looking for a permanent successor to Kit Symons, Fulham are winless in their last five games and they go up against a Brentford side boosted by the recent appointment of Dean Smith.


Stuart Gray, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium on August 30, 2014© Getty Images

Questions still need to be answered, but as Fulham prepare for their latest Championship test, the club's supporters will at least be looking at someone new on the touchline.

Since parting company with Symons early in November, the club have struggled in the search for his replacement and they are still waiting to make an appointment after recently targeting Steve Clarke and Gary Rowett.

A new arrival was confirmed this week when Stuart Gray was recruited as a senior coach, but it remains unclear whether his stay will be temporary, or if success in the role could earn him the job on a permanent basis.

Gray brings Championship experience to the job after his spell with Sheffield Wednesday, and he will be fully aware that he is expected to make an impact on a squad low on confidence after their recent run of poor results.

Without a win since the last day of October, Fulham's struggles were clear last weekend as they slipped to an emphatic 3-0 loss away to Nottingham Forest to leave them in 16th place.

Many expected a possible promotion push from this side, but with seven points currently separating the Cottagers from the playoffs, a response is needed soon to keep those hopes alive.

With the likes of Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele in the squad, fans have every right to be expecting more and Gray may be looking at this weekend as a chance to prove that he can turn their season around.

Recent form: WLLDDL


James Tarkowski (2nd R) of Brentford celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Ipswich Town at Griffin Park on August 8, 2015© Getty Images

Brentford completed their own difficult search for a new manager by appointing Smith just over a week ago, and he made the perfect start to life after Walsall by guiding the Bees to a comfortable 2-0 win over MK Dons last weekend.

Not only did three points arrive in his first game in charge, but the victory seemed to provide a lift for the club after Lee Carsley had done an admirable job steadying the ship as caretaker boss.

Smith was surely under no illusions when he accepted the challenge of making the switch to Brentford, and he will know that the club's owners expect this side to be pushing for a spot in the playoffs this season.

After making such a good start, the question is now whether Smith is the right man to take Brentford to the next level and with just one point separating them from the playoffs, optimism is high among the supporters.

Plenty will change in the playoffs and the true test of a promotion contender will be consistency. Carsley's stint in charge ensured that Smith arrived with his side in a decent position, but much could also depend on whether the club are willing to invest in the squad in January.

Smith saw his side rise to the occasion in his first game, but the supporters will be hopeful that he is the right man to manage the ambition of the owners with the unique tests of the Championship.

Recent form: WLDWDW

Team News

Dean Smith, manager of Walsall looks on prior to the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Walsall and Crystal Palace at Banks' Stadium on August 26, 2014© Getty Images

Despite the temptation to name an unchanged side, Smith will be boosted by the return of John Swift after he missed last weekend's win over MK Dons.

Maxime Colin, who has not played since September due to a knee injury, is also available once again but a hamstring problem will keep Alan McCormack out of action.

Bad news arrived for Fulham this week when it was confirmed that Ryan Tunnicliffe was facing a further 10 weeks on the sidelines after being forced to undergo surgery on his hamstring.

Moussa Dembele is pushing to be fit after missing out against Forest due to a muscle problem, while Gray is likely to make changes elsewhere as he looks for a reaction from the squad.

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Lewis; Voser, Stearman, Ream, Garbutt; Cairney, O'Hara, Parker, Kacanikilic; Woodrow, McCormack

Brentford possible starting lineup:
Button; Yennaris, Tarkowski, O'Connell, Bidwell; Woods, Diagouraga, Swift, Canos, Judge; Vibe

Head To Head

Brentford dominated the derby last season by following a 2-1 home victory by thrashing the Cottagers 4-1 in the reverse fixture in April after the two sides had previously gone 16 years without meeting in the league.

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We say: Fulham 2-2 Brentford

Fulham's struggles to keep clean sheets could go on against a Brentford side boosted by the return to fitness of a number of key players. However, the arrival of Gray should produce a reaction from the Fulham squad and the pressure is on the hosts to improve in a derby in front of their own supporters. It could be an exciting game, but both sides may fall short of victory.

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Stuart Gray, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium on August 30, 2014
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