Strength of Parker’s squad showing as Fulham look to emulate class of ’18

Scott Parker underlined the importance of squad depth after Fulham’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage on Friday night.

Following a busy but successful Christmas period, Fulham have notched three consecutive wins, including progression to the FA Cup fourth round. In these recent games, Parker has shown a willingness to rotate his team selection, bringing Kevin McDonald back to the starting XI and introducing new signing Michael Hector to the defence.

“Everyone’s got a part to play, ” Parker said. “There are players who have played a lot of football and aren’t in the team. Cyrus Christie has come off the back of a run of games, Kevin McDonald has done the same.”

With injuries cropping up throughout the past month, the head coach has been able to rely on a resurgent Josh Onomah and the return of Harry Arter to account for the absence of captain Tom Cairney and Harrison Reed.

The previous weekend’s victory away at Hull came with the blemish of an ankle injury to top scorer Aleksandar Mitrović, too. With Aboubakar Kamara also missing, Parker was faced with a new conundrum against Middlesborough, but adapted well by utilising Bobby Decordova-Reid in a false nine role, flanked by Ivan Cavaleiro and goalscorer Anthony Knockaert.

Knockaert’s goal clinched a vital win against Middlesbrough

And seasoned midfielder Stefan Johansen was brought off the bench to add more grit in midfield, leaving Parker pleased with the Norwegian’s contribution.

He added: “You keep to the formula of working hard, coming in everyday and grafting. Everyone is going to be needed and Stefan comes on, sees the game out and shows his quality.

“With Bobby dropping down and overloading them in the middle of the park, everything we worked on in the week worked well.”

The additions of defender Terence Kongolo from Huddersfield and goalkeeper Jordan Archer have bolstered Parker’s options as the January transfer window reaches its latter stages, following the signings of Hector and Ivan Cavaleiro on permanent deals.

Recalling Fulham’s Wembley-bound team of 2017/18, when loan signings such as Mitrović, Oliver Norwood and Matt Targett embellished the side with Premier League quality, Parker is running the gamut of the squad as he aims for automatic promotion.

A balance of established stars and loanees, each with something to prove, might do the trick.