Writer: Kristian Balkin
Date:Tuesday August 24 2010
Fulham host Port Vale in the Second Round of the Carling Cup
The Cottage will welcome back a fond face in the form of Vale boss Micky Adams. The League Two gaffer is very much looking forward to returning to SW6, leaving a nice little message for the fans he left behind.
'From a personal point of view it's a fantastic draw. For sentimental reasons, going back to Craven Cottage, I started my managerial there so I have got very, very fond memories, so I am delighted.
'It will give the lads a taste of what premiership opposition is like and Craven Cottage is a great place to play football.
'It has changed dramatically since I was there, but it will be nice for me to go down there and see some of my old friends and see the fans again, because they were a different class to me.'
With no fresh injury concerns following Sunday's exploits with Manchester United, only long term doubtfuls Phillipe Senderos and Andy Johnson look certain to miss out.
Schwarzer, too, is doubtful, with his back still a problem and with an imminent move across London to Arsenal in the offing.
New signing Rafik Halliche, the Algerian Centre-Back from Benfica, could be poised to make a start in order to prove his worth to the first team.
Whether Mark Hughes will utilise his strongest eleven is a question only the man can answer himself. I'd fully expect a few changes given only two days will have passed since the tiresome draw with Man Utd.
Having only played thirty minutes of the game at the weekend, the striker should be fresh and raring to go.
The young Belgian looked a threat and was a constant problem for Vidic and Evans in the minimal time he had to impress, with the ex-AZ Alkmaar stiker-come-winger having a stone-wall penalty claim rejected.
We're hoping he gets a place in the starting line-up so we can see just what he can do.
After a comfortable 3-1 victory over Southend, Vale look to have a near-full strength side at their disposal.
Goalkeeper Chris Martin had a stomach bug and sat out their game at Roots Hall with 17 year-old Sam Johnson drafted in as his replacement.
It remains to be seen if Martin will return to the line-up for the tie in Fulham.
Doug Loft suffered a rib injury and looks likely to miss out alongside Lewis Haldane who possesses an ankle complaint.
His strike partnership with namesake Marc seems to be blossoming right now and the lad scored a brace against our West London rivals QPR to make the Second Round.
Our defence should be wary in order to avoid a similar outcome.
Port Vale are on a fine run of form, having yet to lose in competitive football this season. They've only dropped points to Chesterfield in a 1-1 draw.
In head-to-head competition, Fulham have the upper-hand with 21 wins to Vale's 14 whilst the teams have been deadlocked on 13 occasions.
Aptly named Andy Penn officiates the game. The West-Midlands born ref has handed out 8 yellow cards in his previous 4 games, including 6 in a Swansea Carling Cup victory over Barnet.
Beating 'weaker' sides always proves difficult in cup competitions. However, morale in the Motspur Park camp is high and given a decent starting line-up I can see goals-a-plenty. 4-1 Fulham.
Next up after Port Vale is a long trip North to Premier League newcomers Blackpool.
With a mixed start to the season it'll be interesting to see how we deal with the Seasiders in their first home Premiership fixture; ever!
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Date:Tuesday August 24 2010
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