Fulham V Southampton at Craven Cottage : Match Preview

24 December 2012 03:01
Fulham V Southampton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Ruiz set for Fulham return

Bryan Ruiz could return for Fulham's Boxing Day clash against struggling Southampton.

The 27-year-old has been out since coming off in the 3-1 defeat to Sunderland on November 18 with a hamstring injury, but is rated 50-50 by manager Martin Jol for a return.

Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric are doubts and Damien Duff is definitely out. Simon Davies (hip) is also unavailable, while Steve Sidwell returns from suspension.

Jol believes Fulham will find themselves in a relegation battle if they do not pick up points over the festive period.

The Cottagers lost a number of key players during the summer but begun the season surprisingly well.

Things, though, have taken a turn for the worse of late and Jol has only led his side to one victory in their previous 10 matches.

That poor form has seen them plummet in the table and the Dutchman knows they need to improve in the coming games, starting when Southampton visit.

"We wanted that win last week against QPR but I don't think we were good enough," Jol said.

"Against Liverpool we didn't show our strength and hopefully we can pick up the points not because it is a vital game for us. It is a vital game for them as well.

"We are in a good position, we have got a good cushion but if we don't pick up the points in the next week or so then we're really in a relegation battle with other teams."

Adam Lallana is again likely to be missing for Southampton.

The Saints captain sat out Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland with a knee injury and is expected to miss the trip to Craven Cottage.

Nigel Adkins' side appeared to come through the defeat to the Black Cats without any new knocks.

Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis believes the Fulham game is the first of a number of winnable fixtures coming up for the south coast club.

Saints saw a mini revival abruptly ended by the Sunderland defeat, although they will spend Christmas outside the relegation zone.

The loss also maintained a three-point gap between themselves and 16th-placed Aston Villa - something Davis is looking to close quickly, starting at Craven Cottage.

"In terms of Christmas, I think the games we've got are winnable," he said, referring to the trip to Stoke and visit of Arsenal that follows.

"We go into those games fully intending to set our stall out so we can win those games. That's what we'll ask of ourselves.

"Who knows if Dimitar Berbatov is the man to watch out for against Fulham. I am not sure if he has scored many this season, has he?

"He is a top class player but he is not their only player. He didn't play against us down here and we conceded two goals so they've got quality all over the pitch.

"They wouldn't have been in the Premier League for this amount of time if they weren't quality so we will obviously pay them respect, but it is about turning up on the day, performing and taking the three points."

Source: PA