By 90Min
May 28, 2018

Fulham captain and Championship Play-Off match-winner Tom Cairney has hinted that his side's promotion to the Premier League might just have kept the squad together.

The 27-year-old's deft first-half finish saw Slavisa Jokanovic's team claim the £170m golden ticket on offer with promotion to the top flight of English football.

In doing so, Cairney reckons it might just be enough to keep the players key to Fulham's success this season at the club next year - including 18-year-old wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon.

Alex Morton/GettyImages

Cairney told the Mirror: “Honestly, we had to get promoted this time – we had to – we needed to do it and you could see the relief in our celebrations.

“I think this will keep the team together. People are coming to the end of their contracts and stuff, but now we’re in the Premier League, based in London, and it’s an attractive club."

Cairney himself had been generating interest from teams like West Ham ahead of the summer window, whilst Sessegnon's remarkable season has garnered him the interest of a number of top clubs including Tottenham.

It remains to be seen whether the London club can keep hold of the young Englishman, but promotion certainly won't have done Fulham's chances any harm.

Clive Mason/GettyImages

Earning that ticket to the top division wasn't easy for Jokanovic's men, though, playing out a hard-fought battle with Aston Villa - including the last 20 minutes with ten men following Denis Odoi's dismissal.

Cairney said: “We had to be streetwise, because we were playing against an experienced team who were bigger and more physical than us, but no-one remembers nice football, or says ‘Oh yes, they were good’ if you don’t go up.

“No one cares about style, Wembley only remembers winners. Our football will only get us credit this season because it got us promoted. If we’d lost here, nobody would have talked about us.

“That’s why I say football won, and even with 10 men I just had a feeling it was going to be our day. It’s my biggest achievement in football by far – scoring at Wembley, captain at Wembley, leading the team up, it’s not even close.”

Alex Morton/GettyImages

On-loan striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is another player whose future at Fulham may have potentially been decided by promotion.

Having netted 12 goals in half a season, catapulting Fulham to the brink of automatic promotion, an offer of a permanent transfer to the club is very likely.

Despite being a fan favourite, the Serbian still remains out of favour with Rafa Benitez back at Newcastle.

Mitrovic said: “I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s been an unbelievable four months. If someone said on deadline day I would be the leading scorer in the Championship in the rest of the season and we would win promotion, I would not have believed them. It’s like a dream."

Asked of his future, he remained somewhat coy - suggesting his focus was on the upcoming World Cup with his country and that he was contractually still a Newcastle player, though admitting he would be more than happy with a return to Fulham next season.

Alex Morton/GettyImages

He explained: “Of course I will be disappointed if I don’t stay because there have been so many good moments and it’s probably been the best football of my career. From the first moment it felt like I was here for a few years.

“Maybe Fulham is a better fit – I have had more game time and I have contributed more on the pitch.

“Slavisa Jokanovic hasn’t just got the best out of me – he gets the best out of every player. You can see we look really comfortable on the ball.”

It will be interesting to see who does remain at Fulham following promotion, but either way winning the playoff final will have helped strengthen the London club's position in a lot of those negotiations.

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