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Sunday 20
January

Fulham

Ranieri makes first-choice keeper decision

5th January 2019, 13:37 by Aidan Perkins

Claudio Ranieri has told Sergio Rico his position as Fulham's first-choice goalkeeper is now secure if he continues to play well.

The 25-year-old arrived in the summer on a season-long loan from Sevilla but, until Ranieri's appointment in November, was rotated by previous boss Slavisa Jokanovic as Fabri and Marcus Bettinelli - who earned calls to the England squad - were also used.

Under Ranieri and with Rico in goal Fulham have demonstrated signs of improvement that could yet lead to them securing Premier League survival, but even if the latter is rested for Sunday's FA Cup third-round fixture with Oldham he can expect an immediate recall.

For a manager whose rotation policy has given him the nickname 'The Tinkerman' that likely means an attempt to sign the Spaniard permanently should he continue to impress, and Ranieri said: "I watched Sergio Rico when I played against Sevilla (with Leicester), and for me, he's a very good goalkeeper.

"When I came here I didn't want to change so many times - for me, Sergio Rico's the number one.

"I have not had the opportunity to make a friendly match, a pre-season match to see all of my players. There are some good players I don't give the chance (to yet).

"Then for this match, I want to give some rest to the players involved so many times and give the chance to other players who train very well and they deserve to show their best.

"Maybe I can (also) rotate the goalkeeper (on Sunday)."

After Oldham, Fulham will visit relegation rivals Burnley in the Premier League, when victory will be essential in their attempts to climb out of the bottom three.

Ranieri has also repeatedly spoken of his players' fatigue following their demanding schedule throughout December, but even with the league their priority the Italian is not tempted to sacrifice success in the FA Cup.

"The FA Cup is a very good competition, and we want to do well, but of course, between the FA Cup and Premier League, we have to say at this moment the Premier League is more important," he said.

"But that doesn't mean we go there to make a friendly match; it's an FA Cup match and we want to win.

"It could (help our league ambitions). When you win, everything is better."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Aidan Perkins is a senior journalist that specialises in football stories. Aidan, a Liverpool fan, also has a broad knowledge of several other sports.

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