Claudio Ranieri backs Ryan Sessegnon to inspire Fulham turnaround

Fulham travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Friday Night Football

Ryan Sessegnon 0:33
Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri has been impressed by Ryan Sessegnon's recent improvements

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri believes a rejuvenated Ryan Sessegnon could play a crucial role in the club's battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The 18-year-old played a starring role as Fulham were promoted from the Sky Bet Championship last season, but has fallen out of the starting line-up since Ranieri replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in November.

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Fulham are facing an uphill task to avoid relegation as they sit eight points behind 17th-placed Cardiff with 12 games remaining and are set to return to action away to West Ham on Friday night, live on Sky Sports.

Ranieri want his players to be 'ready to fight'
Image: Fulham have fallen eight points adrift of Premier League safety

"It's normal, 18 years old, it's normal," Ranieri said.

"He had a fantastic last season in the Championship. He started very well and it's normal at 18 years old, to change the mentality, the stress, everything. Now I see him getting better and he has the chance to play.

"We need some young players who have a new mentality to change the way."

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Highlights from Manchester United's 3-0 win over Fulham

Having started Ranieri's first four games in charge, Sessegnon suffered a groin strain that caused him to miss two matches - including a 2-0 defeat to West Ham at Craven Cottage - and has only started one of eight Premier League fixtures since.

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Fulham have picked up just seven points during that stretch, leaving them 19th and in danger of being cut adrift from the relegation battle, with an abysmal defensive record playing a major part in their downfall.

The 58 league goals they have conceded amount to 10 more than bottom side Huddersfield, who have the next worst record, while only three teams in Premier League history have let in more goals at this stage of the season.

Fulham fans were dismayed by Ranieri's decision to bring off Andre Schurrle for Cyrus Christie with their side 2-0 down against Man Utd, singing: 'You don't know what you're doing'

"To help the defensive line, it must be all the team. It's a team who have to defend together and attack together," Ranieri said.

"A lot of times, if you see the first match against West Ham, we played very well but they scored two goals on the counter-attack.

"It was amazing because we shot at goal so many times, but that is the sport, that is football."

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