Fulham boss Marco Silva accepts his side will just have to learn to do without leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic as the striker serves his eight-match ban.
Serbia international Mitrovic was handed the lengthy suspension after being dismissed during the Cottagers’ FA Cup defeat at Manchester United last month after grabbing referee Chris Kavanagh.
Mitrovic received a standard three-match ban, but that was extended by three games for violent conduct towards a match official and another two added for using language which was “improper, abusive, insulting and threatening”.
Having already missed one game, Mitrovic – Fulham’s top scorer with 12 goals this season – will now be unavailable for the next seven matches, starting with the visit of relegation battlers West Ham on Saturday.
The Football Association, though, feels the punishment is too lenient and intends to appeal the decision from an independent regulatory commission.
Silva feels whatever the eventual outcome of the saga, his team just have to get on with it as they look to end a four-game losing run.
“We will keep inside (the club) all of the strange feelings we feel right now,” said Silva, whose own dismissal alongside that of midfielder Willian for handball led to Mitrovic’s angry reaction following the award of a penalty to United when Fulham were leading.
“About the replacement (for Mitrovic), of course he is an important player for us, we cannot hide our situation.”
Silva told a press conference: “When you have such an important player, your top goalscorer, who goes out of the game, you are always facing something.
“But at the same time it is a moment for the player that is going to play in this position – it could be Carlos Vinicius or another player – to show their qualities.
“Always when these type of things happen, it is an opportunity for the other (player) to come in and to show quality, to show why he is here at this level, by being involved in our squad.
“But I cannot lie to you that Mitrovic is really important for us. He did not play the last game, will not be in tomorrow’s match and the next games as well.”
Midfielder Willian should return to the squad following his own suspension after a red card at Old Trafford, which was given after a VAR review.
Fulham slipped to a 2-1 defeat at relegation battlers Bournemouth last weekend.
Silva – hit with a two-game touchline ban and a fine for his actions at Old Trafford – is expecting a response.
“We know that all of us have to try to get that consistency which made us to be in a good position (in the table)”, the Fulham boss said.
“It is difficult to find the reasons why the team dropped in the second half (against Bournemouth).
“After analysing the game, we already found it and we spoke with the players and showed them why these things cannot happen for us.”