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Rico is Fulham's number one – Ranieri

PA | 2mo
The Spaniard is on a season-long loan from Sevilla.

Claudio Ranieri has told Sergio Rico his position as Fulham's first-choice goalkeeper is his to keep.

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 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."



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1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914
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Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914
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