Silva plays down Mitrovic’s absence after Fulham stalemate


Fulham had to settle for a draw at Craven Cottage – but they still remain top of the Championship table, a point ahead of nearest challengers Bournemouth.

Marco Silva’s men began in disjointed fashion against bottom club Derby County – until the 17th minute, when Jean Michael Seri took aim from around 20 yards out before crashing a fine shot which cannoned off the crossbar.

And Derby keeper Kelle Roos had to quickly scramble to turn away a deflected Neeskens Kebano free-kick on 30 minutes.

With Fulham struggling to make capital – without top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, missing from the side – Derby carried the occasional first-half threat on the counter-attack.

The hosts gradually kept applying pressure and, on 58 minutes, Fabio Carvalho struck the base of the post from eight yards out amid some desperate defending by Wayne Rooney’s side.

Rodrigo Muniz saw a header cleared off the line by Curtis Davies, before the lively Brazilian’s superb scissor-kick went inches over the bar in the latter stages.

But boss Silva played down the significance of the absence of Mitrovic, who missed the match because of illness, as did Tom Cairney.

“Of course Mitrovic is an important player, but his absence is not why we didn’t win the game,” Silva insisted.

Keeper Marek Rodak, meanwhile, was unavailable because of Covid-19 protocols.

Silva explained: “Rodak is in a really strange situation.

“They said he had contact on the plane with someone who had Covid.

“If the game was two days later, he could’ve played, but there’s a protocol and we respect the situation.”

Fulham: Gazzaniga, Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream, Tete, Reed (Onomah 65), Seri, Kebano, Carvalho, Wilson (Knockaert 77), Muniz.