Scott Parker claimed it is too early in the Premier League season to be declaring Fulham's meeting with Aston Villa as a "must-win" for the west London club.
Parker's side have lost both of their opening league fixtures, going down 3-0 at home to Arsenal and 4-3 away at Leeds United.
Villa, meanwhile, kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over Sheffield United, and including their two EFL Cup outings have won all three of their fixtures this term.
However, Parker refuted that Monday's contest at Craven Cottage should be referred to as a "must-win" for his side.
"I don't see it as drastic as a must-win," he explained in a news conference. "We want to win. I know it's either high or low in a drastic world, but we need to stay level and take realism of where we are in the campaign and where we are as a team. We will try everything we can to take some points and be up to the challenge.
"I don't think we're the only team at this present moment in time who have let in some goals in the first two games. It's not ideal, of course not. Villa at home on Monday is a game we're going to try to get three points. That's the aim."
Villa's assistant coach John Terry, meanwhile, was delighted with the team's display in their 3-0 win over Bristol City on Thursday.
"The result to put us in the hat for the next round is excellent," he said. "And the individual performances, and collectively, and it was an opportunity for players to go and get minutes as well, which is important. Also give the manager food for thought. Everyone competing for places. It was excellent all round."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fulham – Aleksandar Mitrovic
Since his debut for the club in February 2018, Mitrovic has scored 39 per cent of Fulham's league goals. The former Newcastle United forward netted twice in the defeat to Leeds.
Aston Villa – Emiliano Martinez
Martinez saved a penalty in his Villa debut against Sheffield United, having left Arsenal in search of guaranteed first-team football. Of all Premier League goalkeepers to make at least 10 starts in the competition, only Alisson (51 per cent) has kept a higher proportion of clean sheets than the Argentine.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• Fulham have won six of their last eight meetings with Villa in all competitions, winning each of the last three in a row.
• Following a six-game unbeaten run in Premier League meetings with Fulham (3-3-0), Villa are winless in their last four clashes in the top-flight (0-1-3).
• Only West Ham (45) have lost more games against newly-promoted opposition than Villa (43) in Premier League history.
• None of Fulham's last 21 Premier League games have finished level, with the Cottagers winning just five of these (5-0-16), and shipping 45 goals in the process.
• Villa are looking to open a Premier League campaign with back-to-back victories for just the third time, with the Villans also doing so in 1995-96 and 1999-00.