Scott Parker: Alphonse Areola’s ‘big presence’ helping Fulham’s stability push

Scott Parker has hailed goalkeeper Alphonse Areola’s “big presence” as crucial to Fulham’s push towards Premier League stability.

Fulham still only have two league wins in 13 matches, but have ground out successive draws, against defending champions Liverpool and Brighton.

Parker believes his new-look defensive unit is starting to gel, and hailed the on-loan Paris St Germain keeper as crucial to that bid for solidity.

“I’m very, very pleased with progress,” said Parker.

“From the start of the season at times we couldn’t withstand the pressure a little bit, and it’s been a work in progress.

“So I’m very pleased, and certainly yesterday after the break we came under it and kept ourselves in the game and stayed solid. So that’s very pleasing.

“Alphonse has been very important, he’s come in and brought a lot of experience.

“His stature as a keeper and as a human being as well, he’s got a big presence about him.

“He’s been vital since he stepped in the building, along with the defence, the whole new unit really.

“So now we’re starting to see elements of the work that’s been done, and them understanding the division as well.

“The last few games, we’ve been hard to beat. That needs to continue.”

Fulham will head to Newcastle on Saturday with ex-Toon midfielder Parker back on his old St James’ Park stamping ground.

Newcastle will not be able to host any fans, with just four Premier League clubs able to have supporters through the turnstiles after the latest Covid-19 restrictions from the Government.

Parker admitted the clubs still able to host fans can expect to gain an advantage – but insisted any supporters at football at all must be seen as a boost for the sport.

“It’s definitely an advantage to have fans, we saw that for us against Liverpool.

“But I also think that could be the case going to an away ground and having that atmosphere as well.

“Whether the support is with you or against you that can be a positive.

“I just don’t think we’re at a point where anyone should be saying no, no fans at all.

“It can only help people, it can help football.

“We want fans back in stadiums, so I don’t see it as a real negative.

“I’d love to go and play at an away stadium with fans, even if they were cheering against us.”