MX23RW : Thursday, May 23 22:18:01| >> :600:109947481:109947481:
Nov 28, 2015 at 3pm UK at ​Craven Cottage
Fulham
1-1
PrestonPreston North End
McCormack (77')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Garner (11')

Preview: Fulham vs. Preston North End

Sports Mole takes a closer look at both sides ahead of Saturday's Championship clash between Fulham and Preston North End.

Preston North End will be aiming to move further clear of the relegation zone when they make the trip to West London to meet Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

Fulham head into another game without a permanent replacement to Kit Symons in place as they look to protect their place in the top half of the table, while Preston are looking to bounce back after seeing a six-match unbeaten run come to an end.


Fulham

Moussa Dembele scores for Fulham against Blackburn on September 13, 2015© Getty Images

Fulham have continued to take up column inches in the past week, but it is their business off the pitch which is attracting most attention as they search for a replacement to Symons, who was sacked prior to the international break earlier this month.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks for the supporters for the club as they wait to learn who will take the team forward after talks with Reading boss Steve Clarke fell through just as the former West Bromwich Albion manager looked set to make the switch to the capital.

The latest reports have suggested that Fulham are targeting Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett, but it remains unclear whether they can tempt him to leave with his side currently sitting seven points better off in sixth spot.

Under-21s head coach Peter Grant, who has ruled himself out of the running for the job, was in charge as Moussa Dembele cancelled out a Dean Bowditch opener to earn a 1-1 draw away to MK Dons last weekend.

Grant looks set to lead the team once again, but he admits that an appointment needs to be made soon for the benefit of the squad as they look to close the gap on the sides above them.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks for them – they have heard a lot of different voices on the training ground," the caretaker boss told reporters.

Bouncing back from successive defeats in the final two games of the Symons reign was crucial, but victories are needed if Fulham are to convince their doubters that they are strong enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

Recent form: DWWLLD


Preston

Simon Grayson the manager of Preston North End looks on prior to the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Preston North End and Watford at Deepdale on August 25, 2015© Getty Images

Preston head into the weekend under pressure to respond after seeing a good run of form ended by the 2-1 loss to Blackburn Rovers last Saturday.

Paul Lambert started his new job with a victory, but it was frustration for Simon Grayson and his players as Preston finally conceded after keeping six successive clean sheets.

Three goalless draws and two victories were enough to edge Preston out of the relegation zone, but with their momentum halted by the defeat to Blackburn, their performance in a trip to the capital will be a test of their resolve.

Good news did arrive in the loss as Joe Garner netted his first Championship goal of the season, and Grayson will be hopeful that the striker can hit his best form ahead of meetings with Fulham, Burnley and Reading over the next three weeks.

"Credit to him, he has never shied away and has continued to work hard up there," the Preston boss told the Lancashire Post. "I don't think his confidence ever took a dip, it was just a case of him getting the rub of the green."

Only Bolton Wanderers have scored fewer than Preston's tally of 12 goals from 17 league games, and with their attacking play the clear area of concern for this side, it will take contributions from others for Preston to pull away from danger over the coming weeks.

Recent form: WDDWDL


Team News

Ben Pringle of Rotherham United battles with Ryan Tunnicliffe of Fulham during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Rotherham United at Craven Cottage on April 15, 2015© Getty Images

Fulham will give fitness tests to both Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ryan Fredericks after both players were forced off with knocks against MK Dons last weekend.

Ross McCormack is one of a number of other players carrying injuries, but he should shake off an ankle problem to keep his place in attack.

Attacking duo Will Keane and Stevie May continue to improve their fitness levels after their recent injuries, and one of them could be handed a starting spot following their substitute appearances last weekend.

A red card picked up against Blackburn means that Bailey Wright is suspended, while Tom Clarke is in line to replace Calum Woods if the full-back fails to recover from an injury he suffered in the loss.

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Lewis, Voser, Stearman, Burn, Garbutt, O'Hara, Mattila, Kavanagh, Cairney, Dembele, McCormack

Preston possible starting lineup:
Pickford, Clarke, Vermjil, Huntington, Cunningham, Reach, Browne, Gallagher, Johnson, May, Garner


Head To Head

This is the first competitive meeting between the two sides since 2000. Preston claimed four points against the Cottagers in the 2000-01 campaign as Fulham secured promotion to the Premier League.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Fulham 1-0 Preston

Preston's recent impressive defensive run was ended by Blackburn, but they can certainly make it difficult for the Fulham attackers. The key will be how well Preston can perform on the counter-attack as the away side. Fulham might just have enough quality to secure a narrow win.


Who will win the Championship clash between Fulham and Preston?

Fulham
Preston
Draw
Fulham
66.2%
Preston
19.7%
Draw
14.1%
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Head Coach of Fulham U21 Peter Grant looks on during the Barclays U21 Premier League International Cup Semi Final match between Fulham U21 and FC Porto U21 at Motspur Park Training Ground on April 22, 2015
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