Ryan Sessegnon must improve strength, says Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri
By Liam Grace
Last Updated: 27/12/18 2:24pm
Claudio Ranieri has praised Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon but says the England U21 international must improve his strength.
Fulham moved off the bottom of the Premier League table on Boxing Day after a 1-1 draw with Wolves, in which Sessegnon came off the bench to open the scoring after 74 minutes.
The 18-year-old, who can be deployed at left-back or as a left winger, has made 17 Premier League appearances this season - registering two goals and three assists - and has regularly been linked with a move to Manchester United.
However, the summer arrival of marquee-signing Andre Schurrle has threatened Sessegnon's place in Fulham's starting XI, and when asked if he had to pick between the pair, Ranieri said: "Yes. But it is important.
"The coach has a choice to change some players, to give a chance to everybody. It is not a shame.
"It is important for me to choose. They impress me, Schurrle is an experienced player. Sessegnon is young but he is fresh.
"[Sessegnon] needs experience, he needs to play. He is a very good player but of course he must improve his strength.
"When there is a tackle, he is not so strong. He must understand this, be a little more aggressive. But he is young."
Fulham, who are currently four points from safety, return to Premier League action on Saturday when they face bottom-placed Huddersfield.
Ranieri is under no illusions of how important that fixture will be, adding: "It's a tough match. It's crucial for us and Huddersfield.
"We play at home and we need to win. We need three points.
"We are playing well but without three points. We need to be positive and looking forward we can make something good.
"For us, it's important to focus on ourselves. Take it match by match. The crowd are behind us and I hope to give them a very good present. They are our energy.
"I feel good. The club's fans are with everybody. The players are doing their best."
Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has registered seven goals this season but has failed to score in his last six matches.
Ranieri, however, is not concerned by his form, pointing out the contributions he made against Wolves on Boxing Day.
"He played very, very well yesterday," said the Italian. "He was unlucky, but this is the life of a striker. He is ready to restart scoring goals.
"He makes a very good sacrifice. He closes the space, he is ready to go and counter-attack. That is my way to try and save this team.
"I think we have to continue this way. We create chances, we miss chances. I am sure if we continue to create chances, sooner or later, we will score."