Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker believes tackling Cardiff as they fight to stay in the Premier League will be as tough as any game the team have faced this season.
The Cottagers’ own fate was sealed at the start of April, following Huddersfield back to the Championship.
Which side will join them in dropping out of the top flight, though, has yet to be confirmed.
Cardiff gave their survival bid a shot in the arm with victory at Brighton, before then losing at home against title challengers Liverpool last weekend.
With just three points between them and the Seagulls, Neil Warnock’s men will be desperate for a maximum return from their trip to Craven Cottage.
Fulham have won both of their matches since relegation was confirmed with a 4-1 defeat at Watford, but Parker – who replaced Claudio Ranieri at the end of February – knows just what challenge awaits on Saturday.
“They come on Saturday fighting for their lives, and I’m looking at this game thinking it’s probably one of the toughest we’ve had, certainly since I’ve been here, due to the manager we’re facing and the fact the team is scrapping,” Parker said.
“I think we realise the challenge and we’ll get that message into the players for the weekend.”
Parker continued at a press conference reported by the club: “I think they’ve done remarkably well, and full credit to Neil for what he has done at the football club.
“Because to be where they are with three games left is, I think, a massive achievement, and that’s not being disrespectful in any way to Cardiff and their players, and Neil.
“If anything I think it shows what a great job he’s personally done, and what that group of players have done.”
Fulham have yet to confirm who will be in charge next season as the west London club look to regroup and mount another sustained promotion challenge.
Despite the uncertainty around his own future role, Parker will continue to strive for a successful end to a campaign which had promised so much but failed to deliver.
“For me personally as a little nugget it would be pleasing to win three in a row, but ultimately for the football club and as a team, that’s what pleases us most,” said Parker, who could have defender Alfie Mawson back in contention following a long-term knee problem.
“The football club is a happier place after two wins, and ultimately that’s the biggest joy for me.
“I often say that the starting XI are the face of the football club, but behind the scenes there are a lot of people who work tremendously hard up to that point on a Saturday to try and get three points so that they come in Monday morning with a smile on their face.
“Certainly at this point in the season, in the predicament we are in, that is massive.
“It would mean a lot to everyone to win again on the weekend.”