Fulham boss Marco Silva admits Terence Kongolo faces an uncertain future at Craven Cottage after he failed to secure a move in the January transfer window.
The Netherlands international defender, who joined the Whites from Saturday’s opponents Huddersfield for £4m, initially on loan in 2020, has been ravaged by a series of injuries and made just two appearances for the club.
Kongolo, who was a member of the 2014 Dutch World Cup squad, has not been included in any of Silva’s matchday squads this season.
And it is unlikely he’ll usurp Alfie Mawson and Michael Hector in the pecking order to back-up first choice centre-backs Tim Ream and Tosin Abarbioyo.
Last month Fulham tried to offload the 28-year-old, who still has two years and an option for a third left on his contract, but were unable to find a club willing to take on his wages due to his lack of game time.
“We have tried, not just here but abroad. We had some contact, some possible situations, but in the end we didn’t find the right one, so it wasn’t possible,” Silva said.
“Terence is one of the players in our squad and we have to take care of him and treat him like all the others and to give him a chance in all of the training sessions to show his quality.
“But he knows it will be difficult for him. It is difficult because of the other four (centre-backs), they have more games than him, are in better physical condition than him so the competition between them is hard.
“I would like to see Terence play some more if I am honest, because without matches it is difficult for me and unfortunately for him and for us as a football club.
“We will see again in three months but if nothing changes then we have to find a solution for Terence.
“I am not saying he won’t play this season, because football can change so quickly, but let’s see what will happen and we will take the best decision for the player and for the club.”
Silva admits the form of Ream, who has been ever present this season, and Tosin, has been equally frustrating for Hector and Mawson, who were also keen to leave in January.
Hector played a significant role in helping Fulham win promotion in 2019/20, having finally earned a permanent move away from Chelsea after being loaned out five times in as many years by the Blues.
However, he has made just 14 appearances in all competitions since the promotion play-off win over Brentford in August 2020.
Mawson, who has undergone knee surgery twice since his move from Swansea in August 2018, and is out of contract in June, has played just eight times this season and spent last year on loan at Bristol City, and Silva admits it has been hard to keep the pair happy.
“It is always difficult for me to leave one of those four central defenders out of the squad because between Alfie, Hector, Tim and Tosin, it’s been a really good fight, even if it has mostly been Tim and Tosin starting,” Silva said.
“Even if they are not the happiest players in the world right now, they know they are important because sometimes the most important players are often the ones that are not playing but are pushing the others to keep playing at a top level.”