There was a brief period of time where almost the entire Fulham fanbase thought that both the Whites’ right-back options would be suspended for the game against Birmingham City on Sunday.
Thankfully, this is no longer true, due to an arbitrary date set by the Football League, but it got us thinking. If both were to be missing for whatever reason, who would be the options Slavisa would have on the right of defence? Our man Cameron Ramsey took a deeper look.
Denis Odoi, as we know, was sent to the showers early on Saturday as Fulham flopped to a 3-1 defeat against Brentford at Griffin Park after picking up a red card for two bookable offences. The Belgian, who is a relative utility man for Fulham, will miss our next Championship tie against Birmingham City at Craven Cottage on December 9th.
When Ryan Fredericks ruefully collected his 5th yellow of the 2017-18 campaign in the 82nd minute of the Brentford game, the original thought was that he was suspended for this glut of cards – although we now know this not to be the case.
If it was though, who would the troubled Serbian truly have relied on to fill the void on the right hand side of defence? There are two young, worthy alternatives who play in the Cottagers’ Premier League 2 squad eagerly waiting in the shadows, and even now, they’ll both be hungry to showcase their accolade-winning talents to their flustered boss – Steven Sessegnon and Tayo Edun.
Of course it’s argued that Steven’s twin brother, Ryan, is a lot more suited further up the left flank as a winger rather than a full-back, but Steven, who helped his nation win the U17 World Cup in October, is certainly a defender by trade.
For the first team this term, the 17-year-old has featured twice on the right-hand side of the defensive contingent against Wycombe Wanderers and Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup, so there’s viable grounds to claim that the triumphant ‘Young Lions’ member has what it takes to man the touchline composedly.
After the Autumn he had on the junior international scene, Steven will be brimming with confidence, and that could prove beneficial to Jokanovic, if he chooses to trust him in the same way that he believes in his flourishing sibling.
England’s youth set-ups prospered throughout the summer in virtually every age group, and Tayo Edun, who was a vital component in England’s victorious U19 European Championship squad, should also be strongly considered to deputise the vacancy at right-back.
Being a defensive midfielder, Edun naturally harbours the necessary attributes required to shore-up the back four, despite being more adept to patrolling the left-hand side of the defence when needed to do so.
Like Steven, the 19-year-old has also made two sporadic appearances in the Carabao Cup against The Chairboys and The Pirates, but he has also been previously deployed on two occasions domestically in wins against Sheffield United and Millwall, though they were in a holding role in the midfield, where he is indeed seen to be most comfortable and effective on the pitch.
Both candidates possess vaults worth of potential which needs unlocking, and with a faltering starting compliment of late in mind, perhaps even without suspensions, it’s the correct time to gift these two impressive teenagers the chance to make their mark in the match-day XI.
Youthful vigour and enthusiasm could be exactly what the Whites are crying our for, and as Jokanovic ponders and deliberates over his potential line-up throughout the imminent working week, Sessegnon and Edun in particular will understand the importance of performing and applying themselves in training at Motspur Park, if they’re going to successfully earn their place on the club’s official senior team-sheet once more.
We’ve seen the boss unleash fellow starlet Luca de la Torre in recent weeks from the bench and the American has shone brightly during his brief cameos – investing faith in inexperience is risky, but if it pays dividends, it will only be measured and perceived as a bold, innovative decision.
Fulham, fundamentally, need a miniature revolution just as much as they’re desperate for an immediate resolution if they’re serious about reaching the play-offs and promotion; the gloomy, woeful present could be grappled back on course by our future, developing household names.