Over the international break, Fulham winger Floyd Ayite marked his 36th international appearance for the Togolese national team with a superbly taken double against African rivals Ivory Coast.
Ayite’s brace marked perhaps the standout appearance of the international break for the Cottagers, a feat the 29-year-old will hope can translate to his league form.
At the moment, Fulham are in the midst of a record 16-match unbeaten run, and competition for attacking places is especially fierce.
In the Cottagers’ preferred 4-3-3 formation, Ryan Sessegnon and Aleksandar Mitrovic have the left-wing and centre forward positions sewn up, resulting in a brutal fight for the right-wing spot.
And there are is no shortage of attacking options for Slavisa Jokanovic to choose from:
Sheyi Ojo, Aboubakar Kamara, Lucas Piazon, Neeskens Kebano, and Ayite can all realistically lay claim to that coveted starting spot, yet the unfortunate reality is only one can start.
Jokanovic has shuffled the pack frequently in recent matches.
Against QPR, Piazon was handed the start and rewarded the manager with a goal. Against Preston, Ayite started and nearly scored a long-range thunderbolt. Against Sheffield United, it was Ojo who made the first XI.
It is clear that Jokanovic has not settled on a clear favorite to complete Fulham’s three-pronged attack, and Ayite will hope his strong international match will impress the Serbian manager.
The Togolese international has struggled with injury frequently during his Fulham career, but nonetheless has contributed some vital goals during the club’s recent unbeaten spell.
Ayite bagged the crucial opener against Barnsley in the opening match of the undefeated reign, scored in the massive 4-2 away win over second-placed Cardiff on Boxing Day, and netted an audacious half-field lobbed effort in the 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa.
However, despite his contributions in front of goal, often Ayite has looked out of place and ineffective in the Fulham side.
He has a tendency to drift out of matches – a feature of his play that must be addressed if he wants a steady run in the starting lineup.
If Ayite’s his Togo exploits can lead to increased form at Craven Cottage, then the winger might finally lay claim to the contested right-wing spot in Fulham’s dangerous frontline.