Fulham manager Marco Silva has said 30-year-old midfielder Tom Cairney is not yet ready to return to full training in an interview with South London Press, with their opening game in just nine days.
The Scottish playmaker has not been seen in the Cottagers’ first-team squad since their Boxing Day clash against Newcastle United and has spent the summer attempting to recover from a severe knee injury.
But despite being out for over seven months now, the midfielder is still not ready to return to action in west London and is likely to miss the start of the season as Silva’s side take on Middlesbrough next Sunday, which may also have an impact on a promotion rival.
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Football League World understands Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic wanted to make Cairney his first signing at Bramall Lane but since the exclusive from May, it’s unclear whether this remains the case with the 30-year-old set to spend some extra time on the sidelines.
After the departure of John Lundstram in the summer and highly-rated Sander Berge potentially following him after generating a considerable amount of interest from top-flight teams in England and Italy, Jokanovic has identified his area as one he needs to strengthen before the window closes.
There is still a month to go until deadline day, but his injury could make a potential deal between Sheffield United and Fulham impossible until January.
Although Slavisa Jokanovic already knows Tom Cairney well from their time together at Craven Cottage, this is a signing the Serbian shouldn’t look to complete in this window considering the 30-year-old is still on the road to recovery.
Whether he would even pass a medical by the end of August remains to be seen, but officials at Sheffield United should be focusing heavily on other targets considering the fact they haven’t brought in a single signing thus far.
They aren’t in a sticky situation because of this, Jokanovic has already said this is the best team he has inherited in England so far, but he will still want to address his centre-back and central midfield positions that currently look the weakest as things stand.
A move in January could be a good option though if Cairney returns to his old self and can stay fit when he finally does make his long-awaited return. He needs to prove his fitness before the Blades make a transfer move for him though.