Fulham boss Ranieri backs Mitrovic to end goal drought
Mitrovic has failed to score in his last six matches.
Claudio Ranieri admits that “goals are life” for a striker but is backing Fulham marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic to end his drought imminently.
Mitrovic has been on target seven times in the Cottagers’ return to the Premier League but has failed to hit the target for the last six matches.
The 24-year-old Serbian was outstanding in the 1-1 Boxing Day draw with Wolves but missed several fine chances.
His next assignment is to find the net in Saturday’s crucial relegation showdown against Huddersfield at Craven Cottage and Ranieri insists he is ready to start firing again.
“Aleksandar’s confidence is good. Of course for a goalscorer, goals are life. But he’s feeling positive,” the Italian said.
“He played very well against Wolves. He was unlucky and that’s the life of a striker – some days momentum goes well and on others its worse. He’s ready to start scoring again.
“I want the team always to be together and he made a very good sacrifice. He closed the space and was ready to counter attack.
“It’s important that the team continues to create the chances. He didn’t make mistakes against Wolves, he just had bad luck.”
Fulham have stitched together successive draws against Newcastle and Wolves to climb off the foot of the table, but Ranieri knows that Huddersfield is the club’s critical fixture this Christmas.
“Of course we have to win, but this is a game that Huddersfield must also win. As a match it’s crucial for us and for them,” he said.
“The atmosphere will be fantastic, we’re playing at home and we hope to give a good present to our fans.
“We’re off the bottom just by one point. It’s a boost but the important boost is to be like that for the whole season.”
Fulham’s only absentee is ankle-injury victim Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Ranieri will persist with the five-man defence that has solidified his team.
“I didn’t have a friendly match to get to know all my players. I started with four at the back, but we conceded too many chances,” he said.
“I tried with the five at Newcastle and thought maybe this is good for us. But of course this shape is not dogmatic.
“We can change and it’s good when you can change and the players understand we can change and why. The players are intelligent and are adapting to the situation very well.”