Following the news that Fulham captain Tom Cairney’s spell on the sidelines at Craven Cottage is not likely to end anytime soon, it would be wise for Marco Silva to start developing a plan for life without the 30-year-old attacking midfielder this season.
The west Londoners have hardly struggled without the Scotland international so far this term, currently topping the Championship table ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Blackpool; and 19-year-old Fabio Carvalho has been thriving in attacking midfield, earning an average SofaScore match rating of 7.30 over his five league fixtures. Whether or not the teenager can maintain his current level of form over the remainder of the campaign remains to be seen, though.
As such, it would appear wise for Silva to field one of his summer signings in a game which – with the greatest of respect to 22nd-placed Blackpool – the Cottagers should be comfortably winning, in order to both provide support to Carvalho and to make his attacking midfield three much more fluid.
While Silva has claimed that Domingos Quina was not signed as a replacement for Cairney, it would nevertheless appear as if the ex-Watford forward is a talent who boasts a considerable amount of potential – with both Barcelona and Real Madrid enquiring about his services while at West Ham United – and perhaps a player with a much higher ceiling than the Scottish ace.
However, considering Carvalho’s remarkable run of form, it would be naive to suggest dropping the Portuguese starlet in order to field Quina, which is where the 21-year-old’s impressive positional versatility comes into play.
Indeed, having featured on the left, middle and right of Watford’s attacking midfield last season, he is a player who can operate from almost anywhere going forwards, so he should quite easily fit in a Fulham starting XI alongside both Carvalho and Harry Wilson.
With the £2.7m-rated man possessing the ability to score from just about anywhere around the opposition penalty area, something for which both Carvalho and Wilson also have a knack, the prospect of lining up against the trio on Saturday could leave the Blackpool defenders and goalkeeper terrified.
Furthermore, with Quina being 21, Carvalho 19 and Wilson 24, should the trio indeed get the chance to mould with each other this season, Silva may have found an attacking lineup which could serve Fulham for many years into the future.
As such, in order to start this bonding process as quickly as possible, it would seem advisable for the 44-year-old to unleash Quina against Blackpool today, as the man who Slaven Billic dubbed a “talented” player could be the final piece of the Fulham puzzle for Silva.