Fulham coach Scott Parker ‘disappointed’ by timing of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s coronavirus-enforced absence

Fulham coach Scott Parker has expressed his disappointment at the timing of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s positive coronavirus test, which has arrived just as he felt the striker was turning his season around.

Mitrovic contracted the virus ahead of Fulham’s unexpected 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday, and was thus left out of Parker’s squad.

Mitrovic, 26, was the only recognised centre-forward at the club for most of the campaign, before Josh Maja’s loan arrival from Bordeaux earlier in February. And Mitrovic has struggled for form, having not scored for Fulham since September.

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The Serbia international has started just eight games for Fulham this term, with Parker previously saying he took him out to give him some air during a difficult period stemming from his decisive miss while on international duty – a miss that sent Scotland to the Euros in place of Serbia.

“He’s good, at this present moment in time he’s got mild symptoms of the virus,” Parker said when asked about Mitrovic, who will face 10 days in self-isolation as per government guidelines.

“Of course it’s disappointing for Aleks, because at this moment I felt like he was coming out the other side of what’s been a bit of a tough season.

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“But it’s disappointing to pick up the virus and now have to be away from the group and away from us at a big time where we need him as well.”

Fulham take on Burnley on Wednesday with Sean Dyche’s side on a decent run of league form that has included victories over Liverpool, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Maja, on his first Premier League start, scored twice at Everton to answer Fulham’s goalscoring problems this campaign. Before the game at Goodison Park, the Cottagers had found the net just four times in the league since Christmas, but Parker was reluctant to put too much pressure on the new signing.

He said: “What a way to start, full Premier League debut for us and to score two goals and for us to win the game – it was pretty special for him really.

“I’m really conscious; I don’t want to put a lot on someone so young’s shoulders but I’ve been very impressed in the short space of time I’ve been working with Josh and hopefully that can continue really.

“He’s fitted in very, very well. I think he’s come into a young group, a real energetic upbeat group of players and he’s fitted in to that bracket very, very well.

“He’s also fitted in in a short space of time as one who wants to learn, a player who wants to get better and I think that’s vitally important when you come in to where we are and he’s made those strides very, very easily.”

PA

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