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Unassuming Wilson has Fulham dreaming of late Europa charge

Given Harry Wilson began the season with jet blond hair sporting the release of Fulham’s bright pink kit, it is somewhat surprising that the winger and his colleagues have gone somewhat under the radar this campaign.

Nestled on the banks of the River Thames and in 12th position in the Premier League – 14 points off the relegation zone and eight points off West Ham in seventh – Marco Silva’s side have kept their heads comfortably above water.

Being out of fashion for a side that has made a mockery of ‘second-season syndrome’ has never felt so cool.

Last season, Aston Villa lost just two of their last 15 games under Unai Emery to grab a Europa Conference League place on the final day. Fulham must produce something similar if they are to replicate that achievement – but eighth place could be enough this time around for fans to be dusting off their passports.

Saturday 16th March 5:00pm Kick off 5:30pm

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Sat opposite the unassuming Wilson in the club’s state-of-the-art indoor training facility, the Welshman doesn’t give off the impression that Fulham are about to drift towards the end of the campaign as they prepare to host Tottenham on Saturday Night Football.

“We want to finish as high as possible,” he tells Sky Sports. “We’ve had a good season so far with certain games we could have picked up more points to be higher up the league.

“Having finished 10th last year, there may have been a feeling that we would struggle and be towards the bottom of the league in our second season back up.

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Highlights from Wolves’ match against Fulham in the Premier League

“But I feel like we’ve been strong. We want to win as many as we can in the last 10 games. We have to feel that qualifying for Europe is still a possibility.”

Fulham are four points worse off than at the same stage last season when they were 10th with 39 points after 28 games – they have scored one goal more and conceded five more.

“We’re looking up and not down so with the games left,” Wilson adds. “We need to make sure that we keep performing well like we have been in the last few weeks and see come the end of the season if we can nick a European place.”

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Fulham’s Harry Wilson reflects on the season so far and says the club are looking up the table not down as they target a stronger finish to the campaign with ten games to go.

Wilson is one of only a handful of regular first-team players who still feature under Silva as Fulham have evolved into an established Premier League club.

He has kicked on impressively since being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in 2021/22, alongside Antonee Robinson and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The latter left the club last summer, leading to some onlookers fearing Fulham would struggle in their second term back in the top flight.

But Wilson, like his team-mates, has taken on board the added collective responsibility to fill the void left by the Serbian.

Wilson has started each of Fulham's last three games
Image: Wilson has started each of Fulham’s last three games

“When you lose a player like Mitro, it’s always going to be tough to replace him because he guarantees you goals and his all-round play was fantastic as well.

“To lose him was obviously a blow but we’ve realised as a squad we’ve needed to share out the responsibility of the goals and assists.

“When you lose your talisman, everyone needs to chip in and if you look at our goalscorers this year, no one is really pulling away and we’ve had a lot of different names. We’ve all kept on similar numbers. We struggled for goals at the start of the season but since the midway point we’ve been scoring a lot.

harry wilson stats

“It shows that we’re capable of scoring from all positions of the pitch.”

One player whose form in 2024 is as good as anyone in the league is Rodrigo Muniz. Drafted into the side at the end of January after Raul Jimenez suffered an injury, the Brazilian had failed to score in his first 10 league outings.

But Muniz has now scored five goals in his last six Premier League appearances, earning him a nomination for February’s player of the month.

Wilson has the joint-most goal involvements this term
Image: Wilson has the joint-most goal involvements this term

“I’m delighted for Rodrigo,” says Wilson. “It’s been tough for him, especially at the start of the season when he wasn’t playing as much as he’d have wanted to but he was playing really well in the Cup games.

“He got a knock before Christmas which put him out for a few weeks but his first goal really set him on his way. The goals are just the icing on the cake for him as his all-round play and performances have been great.

“He’s been making it tough for defenders, holding the ball up and bringing others into play. I’m delighted that he’s starting to get his goals.”

Wilson: Silva more than just a master tactician

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Fulham head coach Marco Silva plays down talk of European qualification this season but says they will fight for it if the opportunity is there.

Richarlison is expected to be available for Spurs this weekend with the Brazilian back in training following two games out with a knee problem.

The 26-year-old was signed by Marco Silva both at Watford and Everton before he secured a £60m move to Tottenham in July 2022.

Wilson is currently enjoying a good run of form under the Portuguese having produced a goal and an assist in his most recent out at Craven Cottage, the 3-0 win over Brighton on March 2. But what impresses him most about his current manager?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Fulham and Brighton

“As good as he is tactically, I think it’s the person he is,” says Wilson. “He really understands you and he’s always given me the confidence when I’ve been on the pitch since I’ve been here. Even when you’re not playing so well, he always backs you go out and express yourself, to get on the ball.

“Everyone can see how good he is tactically, the way he sets us up in the three years since he’s been here but it’s the side of things which people don’t see – what he’s like on a day-to-day basis with the boys. I think that’s his most impressive trait.”

Tottenham have won each of their last seven Premier League away games against Fulham, their joint-longest run of away league victories against an opponent, along with Aston Villa.

harry wilson stats

But Silva’s side have won their last two league home London derbies, beating West Ham 5-0 and Arsenal 2-1 in December. They have never won three consecutive such matches in the top-flight before.

“I didn’t realise that it could be the case,” says Wilson when the prospect of setting a record is put to him. “But whenever you do play in a London derby you know it means more to the fans. To us as players, it’s just another game and we want to win every game.

“We’ve been good at the Cottage this year. To beat Arsenal is no easy feat so I feel like if we’re on our game we can go toe-to-toe with anybody in this league.

“Spurs are in a good moment and had a really good result at Aston Villa last weekend. We know that if we play at our best, we can pick up the three points.”

Wilson relishing weight of Wales expectation

Wilson is looking forward to the Euro play-offs
Image: Wilson is looking forward to the Euro play-offs

Wilson will join up with the Wales squad next week ahead of their Euro 2024 play-off semi-final against Finland.

Rob Page was boosted by the return to fitness of Aaron Ramsey, despite it being widely expected that the March international break would come too soon for the Cardiff City midfielder.

“I wasn’t surprised to see Aaron’s name included,” counters Wilson. “If he’s fit enough then he has to be in the squad. I know he hasn’t played in a while for Cardiff but if there’s a chance of him being fit or even on the bench or around the squad, he has so much influence as he’s our captain.

“The semi-final is a massive game for us as we really want to set up a final to give ourselves the best chance of getting to the Euros. I’ve got Tottenham on my mind right now, but once that is out the way my full focus will be on that.

“We’ve been in this position before with the World Cup and managed to qualify then. We can all remember the feeling so if we can do it again next week, it would be amazing.

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Wales boss Rob Page says Aaron Ramsey’s return from injury is going well after he was named in the squad for their Euro 2024 play-off semi-finals.

“Time changes quite quickly. For many years I was one of the younger players, making my debut so young. It kept me young for a while but in the last couple of years I’ve moved to being one of the more senior members.

“I’ve passed 50 caps which brings with it an extra responsibility, too. We lost a few of the senior boys through retirement. We lost Gareth [Bale] who was our best player, our captain and our leader.

“But we also lost Joe Allen and I don’t think people realised how important he was to our team and the way we played. To lose those two were massive and so it’s been up to people like myself and those around that 50-cap mark to really step up.

Wilson knows the importance of the month ahead
Image: Wilson knows the importance of the weeks ahead

“You learn to take responsibility just from being around the likes of Joe and Gareth and experiencing it first-hand, thinking back to the two games which got us to the World Cup against Austria and Ukraine. They’ve not had to tell me what needs to be done.

“You could see how focused and determined they were for those games. It was Bale’s performances in both which ultimately got us to the World Cup. Being part of that and seeing it outweighs any advice he could give me.

“The Cardiff City Stadium is a special place when we’ve got a full house there in front of our fans. The anthem before the game is always amazing and that really gives us that extra motivation for when the game starts. If there are moments where we are struggling, the fans have always given us that boost.

“If we’re on top and they’re singing it really gives us that boost to push on again. Under the lights, we know there that anything is possible.”

Klopp: Liverpool ‘silly’ to seek Klopp 2.0

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Image: Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season

Wilson also had his say on the news that Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season.

During his time at Anfield, the midfielder benefitted from loan spells at Crewe Alexandra, Hull City, Derby County, Bournemouth and Cardiff before a move to Fulham was turned permanent.

“He was massive for me,” Wilson says. “When I first came, I was on loan at Crewe. I was only 18 so I didn’t get to see him for the first few months but when I got back from my loan I was up there training and could feel the intensity of the sessions.

“That was the biggest takeaway, how intense the training was under him. From the first session, I saw that he was going to be a massive success for Liverpool and every fan of the cub out there will be devastated that he’s leaving.

“I was shocked and so was everyone I know. He’s going to be a big miss to the Premier League, to Liverpool fans and the club.

“I don’t think Liverpool will be able to replace Klopp [like-for-like]. It would be silly if they tried to, but whoever they bring in is going to have a great squad and I feel like the way he is leaving it is in a strong position.

“The young players coming through this year have done really well and the senior boys there aren’t going to be going anywhere soon. Whoever gets the job will be able to put their own footprint on things.”

Watch Fulham vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League this Saturday from 5pm; kick-off 5.30pm

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