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Claudio Ranieri takes heart from spirit in Fulham camp

The west Londoners are eight points from safety with 12 games left.

Claudio Ranieri takes heart from spirit in Fulham camp

Claudio Ranieri insists his relegation-threatened Fulham players feel “alive” because their fate could be settled in the coming weeks.

The Cottagers face West Ham on Friday, where victory would give their survival hopes a boost ahead of important matches against fellow strugglers Southampton and local rivals Chelsea.

Ranieri believes Fulham are ready to give their unlikely bid for survival one final push, after almost two weeks out of action. They sit eight points from safety in 19th place and have only 12 league games left to play.

The Italian said: “Every time in the training session there is a very good atmosphere. They have given me a lot of confidence, because you see the players are alive. They want to do something more every match.

“I am confident with the support of our fans, we can (achieve) very good things.

“It’s difficult because West Ham have very good players. They are very calm, and they are safe. For us it’s important to show our strength.

“The destiny is there and my players (need) to make their destiny. We know it’s a difficult moment for us but we must be positive.

“These three matches, West Ham, Southampton and Chelsea in very few days. We can say something more after these three.”

The Italian has achieved survival when all has appeared lost in the past, notably at Parma in 2007, and that experience fuels his belief that Fulham can turn their season around.

His work at Parma prompted Juventus to appoint him at the end of that season, and the 67-year-old said: “It is a big challenge but twice I won this big challenge. Once with Cagliari and once with Parma. I hope this can be the third.

“The situations; we were at the bottom in February, (but) at the end we were safe. I hope also at Fulham I can do the same.

“Always I am confident, always I am positive. West Ham spent more than us because they are safe more or less and we are in a bad zone. (But) I am confident with my players because a lot are without experience for the Premier League and it is not an easy challenge for them.”

Alfie Mawson is the only injury absentee for Fulham, and the competition for places means new signings Lazar Markovic and Havard Nordtveit are again unlikely to start.

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