Which players will miss Fulham v Derby?

Scotland's Chris Martin applauds fans after the game

Both Championship play-off contenders have absentees ahead of Saturday's clash at Craven Cottage

Both Fulham and Derby County have played themselves into promising positions in the Championship ahead of the packed festive schedule. 

The Cottagers saw off bottom side Rotherham in midweek to stay within three points of the play-offs, while Derby recorded their seventh consecutive victory to remain in the top six.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Glenn Loovens in action with Fulham’s Chris MartinSheffield Wednesday’s Glenn Loovens in action with Fulham’s Chris Martin

The hosts will be without striker Chris Martin, who is ineligible against his parent club due to the terms of his loan. 

The Scottish striker has netted six times for Slavisa Jokanovic's side this season, and his absence represents a blow for the hosts - while Steve McClaren admitted it will be a boost for the visitors.

Derby manager Steve McClarenDerby manager Steve McClaren

The Rams will be without Ikechi Anya and Max Lowe this weekend, with the duo suffering from knee and groin injuries respectively. 

County are hoping Jonny Russell will be in contention for a return to the starting XI. The Scotsman picked up a knock in the derby win over Nottingham Forest last weekend and only made the bench in midweek, but he has recovered well and is likely to feature at Craven Cottage.

Steve McClaren will again be without George Thorne, Cyrus Christie, James Wilson and Craig Forsyth, but Nick Blackman is nearing a return to training and could make his first team comeback in the festive fixtures. 

Derby's Nick Blackman scores the second goal from the penalty spotDerby's Nick Blackman is nearing a return

This is Derby's third game in the space of less than a week, and the Rams boss admitted to the club's official website that it is a challenge to keep his squad fresh.

“It’s obviously a quick turnaround and we’ll do all we can from our side to prepare the players,” he said.

“It’s down to them as well, we can only control them for a few hours a day when we have them with us. For the rest of the time it is down to them to rest, recover and be ready for the game.

“It is a test of the mentality, especially to play three games in a week, to move from one game to the other so quickly," he added.

Who will come out on top at Craven Cottage? Leave your predictions below.

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