Martin Jol has demanded Fulham’s strikers continue to fill the goalscoring void left by Clint Dempsey’s exile.
Dempsey will be omitted from the squad for the second weekend in succession when the Cottagers face Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow.
The 29-year-old is thought to be desperate to join Liverpool, whose pursuit of the player is the subject of an official complaint made to the Premier League by Fulham.
Jol is furious that Reds manager Brendan Rodgers publicly voiced his interest in Dempsey without tabling a firm bid, distracting the American forward.
With an unsettled Dempsey deemed unfit to play, Fulham must travel to Old Trafford without last season’s most prolific marksman.
Goals were plentiful during Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing of Norwich, but Jol knows that scoring will be far tougher against big clubs.
“If you look at last season against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, Clint was always the one,” the Fulham manager said.
“He’s like a striker, always on the end of things. We had quite a few remarkable results because of that last season.
“It’s not only about teams like Norwich, it’s also about Man Utd and Chelsea and Clint always played a good part in those games.
“Hopefully Bryan Ruiz, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega can do that, but I still feel we need something at the end of our delivery to be more productive.”
Jol has offered an olive branch to Dempsey, declaring he will be welcomed back into the fold if his dream move to Liverpool fails to materialise.
Fulham finished a respectable ninth last season, but Jol is aware of the critical role played by Dempsey, who fired 23 goals in 45 appearances.
“Normally if you can keep all the players and add one or two more you can say we can make a step again, but now it’s not easy because of Clint,” he said.
“He was our top scorer and before last Saturday I didn’t know where the goals were coming from.
“Petric stood up and Bryan Ruiz will be a different player, so hopefully we will cope with the situation and build a new team.
“If you look at the line-up there’s only four or five left from last season when we started.”
United opened their Premier League campaign with a shock 1-0 defeat to Everton on Monday night and Fulham are braced for the inevitable backlash.
“My first thought when they lost that game was that it wasn’t a big advantage for us,” Jol said.
“We’ll go there and try to play our own game, but I always prefer Man Utd later in the season.”