Fulham travel to St Andrew’s in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday evening with plenty of options at Marco Silva’s disposal in looking to rest and rotate, or even surprise Lee Bowyer.
18-year-old Marcel Oakley scored the only goal of the game as the Blues got past Colchester United 1-0 in the first round, and they will be looking to continue their positive momentum on Tuesday evening.
With eight days to go in the window, Silva still has an embarrassment of riches for the level of opposition and the cup competition will not change that, key men so far this season Fabio Carvalho and Aleksandar Mitrovic could be rested with new signing Rodrigo Muniz possibly making his full debut after his transfer from Flamengo.
There may also be opportunities for Harrison Reed and Anthony Knockaert to get some minutes as they enter the final stages of their returns from injury.
Here, then, we look at three curveball selections Silva could make to freshen up his side on Tuesday evening…
Play-off hero Joe Bryan
Silva could name 11 changes from the club’s 2-0 home win over Hull City on Saturday and probably produce a lineup that would compete inside the top six of the Championship.
Joe Bryan could be one to come in for the trip on Tuesday evening, to give Antonee Robinson a rest at left-back.
Bryan bagged an extra-time brace for the Cottagers as they beat Brentford 2-0 in the 2019/20 play-off final, and even outside of that performance was a key man in their promotion. His delivery from wide areas is his standout strength and the 27-year-old could be in a position to provide an assist or at least create some chances if Muniz gets the nod.
Championship ace to roll back the years?
Anthony Knockaert has won promotion from the Championship three times, once with Fulham, and the league’s Player of the Year Award in 2016/17. There are fitness concerns over his selection however it seems likely he will play some part in the match.
A nightmare for fullbacks in years gone by but at 29 after a slow and steady year at Nottingham Forest last term, the fear factor is no longer present around the Frenchman.
Knockaert will be determined to show his manager that he can contribute to Fulham’s automatic promotion push, by proving his fitness and skillset on Tuesday evening, the League Cup presents the perfect opportunity and with the Blues not boasting anywhere near the Cottagers’ strength in depth, Knockaert could cause all kinds of problems on Tuesday evening.
Rodrigo Muniz is likely to come in for his first appearance in Fulham colours at St Andrew’s, the 20-year-old scored four times in 19 Brazilian Serie A matches prior to the move, with the Cottagers acquiring his services for £7.2 million according to Transfermarkt.
With so little experience in the senior game it is hard to gauge what we can expect immediately from Muniz, however, the fee suggests a lot at Championship level.
The deal speaks volumes to Fulham’s leg up in the second tier this season, with the ability to spend over £7 million on a man set to play second fiddle to Aleksandar Mitrovic in this campaign.