Marco Silva has hinted that Michael Hector might keep his place in Fulham’s starting line-up despite the availability of Tosin Adarabioyo following suspension for the visit of Derby to Craven Cottage on Wednesday.
Hector, who was part of the Whites team that won promotion in 2019, was marginalised for much of last season under Scott Parker and the same looked to be happening for the former Chelsea centre-back this campaign when Silva left him out of his squad for all but four of the first 15 league matches.
However, the 29-year-old was finally given his first taste of Championship action this season, at Blackburn, after Tosin was sent off in the victory at West Brom, and helped the team stroll to a 7-0 win.
A 1-0 win at Peterborough and a 4-1 victory over Barnsley followed and Silva admits he has a decision to make with the former Manchester City youngster available again for selection.
“It will not be an easy decision, not just about Hector because Denis (Odoi) is coming back as well,” Silva said.
“I will analyse what we want to do and I will take the decision I believe is the right one for the club and and the starting 11 tomorrow.
“Hector I have only good words for. He knows that when we spoke at the start of the season and he had been away with his national team but he wanted to be involved.
“But the other three defenders were in a better shape than him and in a better position to play.
“He had a long period out of the squad list but he worked harder and harder to show his quality and over the last two weeks he has improved with each game.
“He has had some good performances and it will be tough to decide what to do for sure, but whatever I decide will be for the good of the team.”
Victory for leaders Fulham over bottom club Derby, who have zero points after being docked 21 this season by the EFL for breaching profit and sustainability rules, would see the Whites chalk up an eighth successive win.
But Silva said the Rams, who beat second-placed Bournemouth on Sunday, will offer a stiff test to his free-scoring team.
“I congratulate Derby’s players and staff for the strong character they have shown and how they are doing given their situation,” he said.
“They are always a tough team to beat and the number of defeats they have shows that. They would have already have collected 21 points and the players and staff have shown it is possible to do it.
“They will come here to fight and even if you look at the table their position is not fair to them.”