MARCOS Alonso and Gretar Steinsson are poised for a recall as Owen Coyle looks to plug his leaky defence at Fulham.

Both full-backs are in line to start at Craven Cottage – one of the least hospitable venues in the whole Premier League for Wanderers down the years.

It is nearly two decades since Bruce Rioch’s Whites brought three points back from SW6, but that is nevertheless the task Coyle has on his hands if he is to instigate some pre-Christmas fight from a side looking desperately short of festive cheer.

Alonso has been out of action since August after breaking his foot playing against Macclesfield Town in the Carling Cup, but was part of Coyle’s team that did raid the Cottage last season for a vital FA Cup victory en route to Wembley.

The Spanish defender is now ready for a first-team recall, which could mean bad news for the ever-present Paul Robinson.

“He has come back from his injury and got two or three reserve games under his belt,” Coyle confirmed. “His training has improved no end. He’s been in our squad every week but now he’s getting closer to his maximum in terms of fitness.

“He got a freak injury in the cup tie against Macclesfield, there was no-one near him.

“But I’ve been happy with how things have gone with him, and Marcos is very much in our thoughts.”

Steinsson is also looking sharp after personal issues had prevented him from training properly for the last few weeks.

The Icelandic defender has not started a game since the defeat at Swansea City in October but after Dedryck Boyata struggled against Aston Villa last weekend, he could well be given an opportunity.

Wanderers have conceded 36 goals in their 15 games this season and have the worst goal difference of anyone in the top flight.

But with David Wheater suspended, Sam Ricketts only just recovered from long term injury and Joe Riley only rejoining the squad this week after a hamstring strain, Coyle’s hands have been tied as he looked for the right mix.

The Wanderers boss admits morale has suffered badly in the aftermath of a disappointing home performance last Saturday.

“Confidence is king, as you know, and a lot of this is letting the players know that you still have the belief in them,” he said. “I think we have been very loyal – some would say too loyal to certain players. But sometimes circumstances dictate that they get more opportunities than their performances merited.

“If you do have a number of personnel missing, you can’t chop and change as you’d like.”

Not since 1992 have Wanderers beaten Fulham in the league at the Cottage, with Andy Walker (2), Alan Stubbs and David Lee on the scoresheet in a 4-1 victory for Bruce Rioch’s side.

But Coyle is convinced the current vintage, however browbeaten they may currently seem, are capable of matching them – just as long as they keep 11 players on the pitch.

It has been to the manager’s chagrin that his side have already picked up five red cards this season, four of which have come away from the Reebok.

“We’ve been down to 10 men for huge periods of some games,” he said. “I watched the best team in the country, Manchester City, go down to 10 men against Chelsea the other night and they couldn’t deal with it. If a team costing £350m can struggle, that’s the task, and their red card was in the second half – we’ve been asked to go 70 or 80 minutes with 10 men.

“But that’s not getting away from the fact there are players in this group that have far more in their locker than they are producing right now.”