Ranieri wants strike partner for Mitrovic

Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is back in west London [Picture: Simon Matthews/PA Wire]

Claudio Ranieri has suggested he will play two up front at Fulham in a similar counter-attacking style to the one he enjoyed success with at Leicester.

After succeeding the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic, the Italian insists his priority is to sure up a defence that has been woeful so far this season.

But Ranieri also wants to find the right partner for striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who played as a lone centre-forward under Jokanovic.

“For me Mitrovic is a fantastic striker,” he said. “He needs some fantastic balls to score goals.

“I’ve watched him in the national team and he scores a lot of goals. For us he is very important.

“I have to choose the best mate for him, but not just him – everybody.”

Ranieri took Leicester to the Premier League title with his counter-attacking style but was sacked nine months later with the team struggling against relegation.

And he admits he is already in a “battle” against time to do the same at Fulham.

He said: “I don’t know how much time I need to improve the defence. It depends how long it takes them to understand my philosophy.

“We have to defend altogether and attack altogether. I have to work hard and I know I don’t have time. It’s a big battle.

“When changing the manager, you change the air in the dressing room. Maybe some players didn’t play with the previous manager and with the new manager they give more, because maybe there is more feeling.

“I believe I have very good players but they must have to show me the fighting spirit.”