Mitro: I just tried to help

Scott Parker will have to plan for next week’s west London derby against QPR without his talisman, writes Yann Tear.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the 52nd minute winner at St Andrews on Saturday, as the Whites bounced back from the home defeat to Hull with a gritty 1-0 win at Birmingham City.

That was the Serbian’s 12th goal of another prolific Championship season – and that does not include half a dozen goals bagged in internationals.

But the 25-year-old also picked up a booking – his fifth of the season – which automatically triggers a one-match ban, as it cannot be appealed.

The yellow card looked harsh, with Mitrovic claiming he was innocent in an incident involving Birmingham’s Jude Bellingham.

“I tried to help him because he had blood on his lips,” Mitrovic said. “I told him he had the blood and to stay on the ground so that the referee could come over.

Then the referee went to talk to his assistant and gave me a yellow card. I don’t know why. I just tried to help.”

Action from Birmingham v Fulham

It is bound to be a huge loss for next Friday’s clash with the Hoops after the latest international break. Without his goals, Fulham would have been nine points worse off.

Fulham boss Parker may well turn to Bobby Reid to plug the gap, although the on-loan striker has yet to score in 16 appearances for the club since arriving from Cardiff City in August.

He at least can take heart from a vital win before the fortnight off, given the poverty of the performance a week earlier. They looked shaky in the first half but improved after the break.

They are back up to seventh – two points off the play-off places.

“It’s been a tough week,” Parker said. “There’s been some questions asked of the team, mainly by me after a 3-0 loss at home.

That was bitterly disappointing but we came here and showed real character, in difficult conditions, and I thought we were worth the win.

“I said to the team in the lead up that the main focus I wanted to see was character. That’s how I determine a footballer, that character and passion about them. If you’ve got that first and foremost, you’ll be all right.

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jude Bellingham clash at St Andrews. The Fulham striker got a yellow card and is now banned for the clash against QPR.  Picture: Sean Gosling

“We all realise that if you want to be successful as a team and as a player, you need something that’s in the gut of your stomach, that’s a desire about you and a mentality.

“The travelling fans were superb, supporting the team all the way through, and were top drawer. It was a good day. We’ll take a deep breath, relish this moment, but now we need to build on this.”

Speaking of his match winner, who captained in the absence of an ill Tom Cairney, Parker said: “He was pivotal.

For all his goals and everything that goes around Mitro, all I ask from him every week is to turn up and be the Mitrović that has me standing on the side of the pitch thinking, ‘this guy is an absolute animal.’

“If that’s his base and his platform, goals will come, the wins will come. He’s a talisman, he’s the guy everyone looks to, and there’s a lot of pressure on him.

“He needs to live with that pressure and understand what he gives to this team, and he did that massively today.”gave me a yellow card. I don’t know why. I just tried to help.”

It is bound to be a huge loss for next Friday’s clash with the Hoops after the latest international break.

Without his goals, Fulham would have been nine points worse off.

Fulham

Fulham boss Parker may well turn to Bobby Reid to plug the gap, although the on-loan striker has yet to score in 16 appearances for the club since arriving from Cardiff City in August.

He at least can take heart from a vital win before the fortnight off, given the poverty of the performance a week earlier. They looked shaky in the first half but improved after the break.

They are back up to seventh – two points off the play-off places. “It’s been a tough week,” Parker said. “There’s been some questions asked of the team, mainly by me after a 3-0 loss at home.

“That was bitterly disappointing, but we came here and showed character, in difficult conditions, and I thought we were worth the win.

I said to the team in the lead-up that the main focus I wanted to see was character. That’s how I determine a footballer, that character and passion about them. If you’ve got that, you’ll be all right.

Fulham boss Scott Parker Pictures: PA

“We all realise that if you want to be successful as a team and as a player, you need something that’s in the gut of your stomach, that’s a desire about you and a mentality.

“The travelling fans were superb, supporting the team all the way through, and were top drawer. It was a good day.

“We’ll take a deep breath, relish this moment, but now we need to build on this.”Speaking of his match winner, who captained in the absence of an ill Tom Cairney, Parker said: “He was pivotal.

“For all his goals and everything that goes around Mitro, all I ask from him every week is to turn up and be the Mitrovicć that has me standing on the side of the pitch thinking, ‘this guy is an absolute animal.’ If that’s his base and his platform, goals will come, the wins will come.

“He’s a talisman, he’s the guy everyone looks to, and there’s a lot of pressure on him.

“He needs to live with that pressure and understand what he gives to this team, and he did that massively at Birmingham.”

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