“Tom Cairney is going to be unavailable for the Brighton game,” Jokanovic told the media during his pre-match press conference ahead of Fulham’s match on Saturday against Brighton & Hove Albion. “He has a foot injury and we still need to assess him but it is our expectation that he will be unavailable for a few weeks. We must assess him, he is going to be out for a few weeks. Yes, this is a big loss for us.”
The Scottish international was critical to the Whites’ promotion campaign last season, the heartbeat of the club’s possessional attack. However, he has had some injury problems over the past few years that have limited his production. Last season, he made 34 Championship appearances, but was limited early on due to a knee injury. He returned in November, although he took another month to truly find himself fully fit.
Jokanovic has a few options to replace Cairney in his absence. Two-way midfielder Stefan Johansen could take his place off the bench, or Andre Schurrle could move from the wing to the middle in an attacking role. A more fringe option could be young American midfielder Luca De La Torre, who has made recent waves out of the Fulham academy and saw significant time in preseason.
Fulham had a spectacular summer transfer window, becoming the first newly promoted English club to spend over $100 million. However, they have struggled to put a full-strength starting lineup on the field at the beginning of the year. American center-back Tim Ream, last year’s Fulham Player of the Season has yet to make an appearance this season with a nagging injury, while new signing Alife Mawson just returned to action in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Exeter City. They also lost winger Neeskins Kebano who suffered an ankle injury during the Exeter City win.