West Ham’s Diop confident of keeping Fulham forward Mitrovic quiet

West Ham United defender Issa Diop (far right) watches on as Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic heads towa

West Ham United defender Issa Diop (far right) watches on as Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic heads towards goal in December's meeting between the sides (pic: Chris Radburn/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Hammers return to Premier League action at home to Cottagers on Friday

West Ham United defender Issa Diop (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA)

West Ham United defender Issa Diop (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Issa Diop is confident he has what it takes to contain Aleskandar Mitrovic when West Ham United host Fulham in the Premier League on Friday.

In an otherwise dismal season to date for the Cottagers, the form of Serbian international Mitrovic has been a rare positive for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

The 24-year-old was a £22m summer signing from divisional rivals Newcastle United and has gone on to net 10 goals in 26 league matches for Fulham.

Diop, though, formed part of a West Ham defence that kept Mitrovic quiet in their previous meeting with Fulham in December, which the Hammers won 2-0.

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And ahead of the return fixture this Friday, the French defender feels he is more than capable of nullifying Mitrovic’s threat once again.

Speaking to the club website, Diop said: “Mitrovic is a big player. He’s a big, powerful striker, very strong and very good in aerial situations, so we need to be careful.

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“I will work out how I can mark him on Friday night. I enjoy those physical battles with the strikers and not many will be as physical as Mitrovic.

“He uses his body really well, so I have to figure out how to get into good positions to stop him.”

West Ham will hope to hit the ground running when they return to action under the Friday night lights and claim all three points against Fulham.

Owing to their early exit from this season’s Emirates FA Cup, the Hammers were without a game last weekend.

Instead, boss Manuel Pellegrini took the opportunity to take the east Londoners to southern Spain for a spot of warm-weather training.

The Chilean will hope that stands his team in good stead as the London Stadium club look to keep their season from petering out.

As well as three points, West Ham will also be playing for bragging rights against London rivals Fulham on Friday.

And Diop is excited about the challenge ahead, adding: “We play against Fulham, a London team, and we’re at home, so we know we need to win and we cannot falter.

“I know some of their players because I played a lot of times against them in Ligue Un. They are all very good players, but I hope we can win this game.”

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