Hamalainen illness adds to QPR’s worries

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Niko Hamalainen could be unavailable for injury-hit QPR against Brentford because of illness.

The 20-year-old defender is among the Rangers youngsters being considered by manager Ian Holloway, who is already without several defenders.

Right-back Osman Kakay and centre-backs Chris Paul and Giles Phillips are also in contention.

However, Hamalainen is struggling with suspected bronchitis and on Sunday morning he was looking extremely doubtful for Monday’s derby.

The Finland Under-21 international, who can play as a left-sided defender or further forward, has some first-team experience having made three appearances last season.

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Kakay, 20, has also featured three times for the R’s, while former Tottenham youngster Paul, also 20, and American Phillips, 19, have yet to make their senior debuts.

They are being considered for places in the squad because Joel Lynch and Darnell Furlong have both been ruled out of the Brentford game, adding to Rangers’ defensive injury worries.

Lynch went off at half-time against Derby in midweek with an ankle injury, while Furlong missed that game with a knee problem and is still struggling.

James Perch and Nedum Onuoha are training again following their respective injuries but are not ready to return to action, while Steven Caulker remains unavailable and Grant Hall is expected to miss the entire season with a knee problem.

It leaves Holloway pondering his options, which include asking Jordan Cousins, Pawel Wszolek or Jamie Mackie to play in a more defensive role.

That is not an option Holloway is overly keen on – and in any case, Cousins could also be unavailable on Monday.

Cousins was sidelined for the Derby trip with a knee injury and will be assessed along with Hamalainen before Holloway names his squad.

“I’m going to have a look at it,” said Holloway.

“It’s either (include a youngster or) move a more experienced player into a slightly different role if Jordan Cousins is fit, and he’s saying he is but I’ll have to have a look, or Pavel or maybe Jamie Mackie. I have got a few who can do it.

“But round pegs in round holes don’t half make things easier. I feel like we’ve lost the balance and a little bit of confidence, and how do I underpin that by then putting another forward there (in a defensive role)?”

On a brighter note for Rangers, Massimo Luongo has recovered from a recent illness and is set to start.