Fulham boss Scott Parker assesses potential impacts of Leeds United points swing after 'chipping away' at Whites
FULHAM boss Scott Parker insists his Cottagers would still have prospects of achieving automatic promotion even if they are defeated in Saturday's Championship crunch clash at Leeds United.
However, Parker hopes instead his men will leave with victory and slash the gap to four points after continually "chipping away" at the Whites.
Second-placed Leeds and third-placed Fulham will line up for Saturday's 3pm kick-off at Elland Road with seven points still separating the two sides after both the Cottagers and Whites were beaten in their first games back after the 15-week pause to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fulham firstly blew the chance to close the gap to the Whites to four points when falling to a 2-0 loss at home to Brentford last Friday night and Leeds then squandered the opportunity to establish a ten-point cushion in the automatic promotion spots when suffering a 2-0 reverse at Cardiff City on Sunday lunch-time.
The gap between Fulham and Leeds will now be either ten points, seven or four after Saturday's clash at Elland Road and Parker has his eyes on the latter but says win, lose or draw his men will still have automatic promotion prospects.
“They don’t come any bigger than Leeds away,” Parker admitted.
“It’s a massive game for Leeds, and it’s obviously a massive game for us as well. We’re looking forward to that, we’ll go there and see what we can do.
“Every game for us this season has been a big game, and of course it becomes a little bit more important because of where the two sides are in the division.
"Leeds, for most of this season, have been one of the best teams.
"They’ve been at the top of the table for large parts.
“The last time we played them I think there was a 13 point gap, we managed to beat them at home and narrow that gap.
"We have chipped away and brought them back to us a little bit.
“And to think that if we go there at the weekend and get a result, against a very, very good team, we narrow that gap to four points.”
Asked if a loss would end Fulham’s automatic promotion prospects, Parker said: “It’s difficult, but in saying that we live currently in a world which every day brings up surprises, and certainly when it comes to football.
“Leeds last weekend went and got beat by Cardiff, and that’s no disrespect to Cardiff but you maybe wouldn’t have thought that.
“I think this division at times this year, before the current situation, brought up many surprises. Leeds have had a big swing in points over the course of it.
“The weekend’s a big game, of course it is, but I do still see there being an opening (if Fulham lose).
"It’s going to be more difficult of course, because the gap becomes a lot bigger and there are fewer games.
“I firmly believe there’s going to be many twists along the way. We need to put ourselves in a position to try and win as many games as we possibly can, and let’s see where we are come the end of it.”