Fulham continue their fight for Premier League survival when they travel to Birmingham to take on Aston Villa this Sunday.
Scott Parker’s Cottagers are 18th in the top flight standings on 26 points, 3 points from safety.
Above them sit Newcastle United, who face a tricky test at home to Spurs just a matter of hours before kick off at Villa Park.
As such, Fulham will know in greater detail just how close they are to going above the dotted line, although a win is paramount regardless of circumstance.
The London club have been arguably the pick of this season’s relegation candidates but an abundance of draws has so far scuppered their efforts at escaping the trapdoor back to the Championship.
Aston Villa meanwhile have enjoyed a much more productive season than the one that saw them narrowly escape the drop themselves less than 12 months ago.
Although unlikely, Dean Smith’s men are still in with a shout of qualification for the Europa League, something which would’ve been unthinkable this time last year when the season was temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and Villa were in trouble.
No doubt 10th placed Villa will want to reach those European spots, but with plenty more on the line for Fulham in the final 8 games of the season you’d suggest this game holds greater significance for the visitors.
Villa ran out comfortable 0-3 winners at Craven Cottage in the reverse fixture in September which was just the 3rd game of the season – goals from Grealish and Mings were enough to keep Fulham at the foot of the table.
On the injury front, talisman Jack Grealish has returned to first team training this week and is expected to be fit, with defender Kortney Hause also back from an ankle problem.
Dean Smith’s only definite absentee is Wesley, with the striker continuing to step up his recovery from knee ligament damage.
Fulham meanwhile will continue to be without Tom Cairney who may not even feature for the Cottagers between now and the end of the season.
Parker is also sweating on the fitness of Bobby Decordova-Reid who missed Fulham’s last Premier League game on March 19th.
Aston Villa v Fulham is a 4.30pm kick off on Sunday 4th April.
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