Fulham vs Brighton preview: Mat Ryan back in contention for visitors
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Last Updated: 29/01/19 11:30am
Brighton will have first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan available for selection for Tuesday's trip to Fulham.
Ryan has not played for Brighton since Boxing Day due to his participation in the Asian Cup but he's back in contention following Australia's quarter-final exit at the hands of UAE.
However, with David Button having performed admirably in his absence, manager Chris Hughton has a tough call to make with regard who starts at Craven Cottage.
"I haven't named the team for tomorrow yet, and I have a decision to make now in the goalkeeping position," the Brighton boss said. "David Button has come in and done very well and taken his chance.
"Maty Ryan trained yesterday and he will do again today - he's fine and fit. Maty's one of these ones that because of where he plays his international football is used to travelling.
"We've had this for the last couple of seasons where he's played on the back of a return flight from Australia a few days before. So, as regards him and his physicality, he's in very good shape.
Fulham welcome Brighton to Craven Cottage in a perilous position, second from bottom and seven points adrift of safety.
Ranieri, who replaced the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic in November, believes the situation can only improve and admits the Seagulls game is must-win.
"It's crucial for us. We have to win and we have to make the maximum effort," he said. "The battle is hard, now we are relegated, we can only improve. Worse than
this, is not possible.
"I'm a positive man. I know it's a hard job but it was hard when I came, it's harder now. We have to try to fight until the end."
Fulham have no fresh injury concerns but will be without suspended forward Aboubakar Kamara.
Frenchman Kamara has been banned indefinitely by the club and is the subject of an internal investigation following an incident at the Cottagers' training ground.
Midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has returned to training after injury but will not feature against the Seagulls, while centre-back Alfie Mawson (knee) also remains out.
Along with Ryan, Brighton will have Leon Balogun available for selection for the trip to Fulham.
The defender missed Saturday's FA Cup draw with West Brom because of illness.
Iran winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is still at the Asian Cup ahead of Monday's semi-final against Japan, while Jose Izquierdo (knee) and Bernardo (hamstring) also remain unavailable.
- Fulham are winless in their last six league meetings with Brighton, losing five before a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in September.
- Brighton have won their last three visits to Craven Cottage against Fulham in league competition, scoring exactly twice each time.
- Fulham have lost their last three Premier League games, including the last two having scored the first goal. Only four teams have ever lost three in a row after opening the scoring in Premier League history (Blackburn April 2007, Sunderland February 2011, Wolves April 2012 and Leicester December 2014).
- Brighton have kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League games (W3 D3 L7), in a 1-0 home win against Everton in December.
- No side has dropped more points from winning positions than Fulham in the Premier League this season (15, level with Southampton). 10 of those points have been in the 11 games since Claudio Ranieri took charge, more than any other side in that time.
- Brighton have won just one of their last 10 top-flight games in London (D2 L7), a 3-0 win at West Ham in October 2017.
- Just 25% of Brighton's Premier League wins have come in away games (4/16) - only Swindon (20%) and Fulham themselves (24.8%) have a lower ratio of their Premier League victories on the road.
This is a must-win game for Fulham. If they don't then you can almost turn the lights out on their bid to stay in the top-flight.
Brighton are no the best away from home so I can see Claudio Ranieri's side edging this one.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)