Mark Warburton says he is preparing to be without key QPR duo Seny Dieng and Ilias Chair for the December 27th game against Bournemouth.
Dieng, Chair and defender Osman Kakay are all due to jet out for the African Cup of Nations on Boxing Day to link up with Senegal, Morocco and Sierra Leone respectively, with Rangers still waiting to hear whether their requests for the trio to link up with their squads after Monday’s game has been granted.
“We’re still waiting to be told. I’m told there’s meetings, but I don’t know what is going to be happen,” manager Warburton said.
“I think they are due to fly out before the game, whether we can change that I don’t know, but it is getting very tight on days.
“That is why it’s always a worry this time of year, the timing aspect, the clock aspect and getting the information going backwards and forwards, and I like to think we can keep one or two of them – but it is looking doubtful.
“We need to find out when is the first game, the games programme is unique, in some countries in Europe there is a winter break but it is a manic time in our scheduling so some players who are reporting for Afcon will need game time and to get their match legs back.
“Whereas the UK-based players are the opposite and there are discussions about players who are playing on the 26th, 27th 28th of December in the Premier League or the Championship and will maybe not have to travel on that day?
“But the coach may say ‘It is an international call-up and I want them with me from day one.’
“We don’t know and it is trying to have these negotiations, but we have language barriers and this is just another one of the challenges clubs face when there is a tournament at this time of year.”
Rangers lost 10 squad members due to Covid-19 isolation but Chair and Dieng were able to train last week ahead, which Warburton says has made preparations for the Bournemouth match very difficult.
“You have to prepare that you may have them or may not. When you have seven or eight players training and Ilias and Seny are two of them it’s very hard to work on an aspect of play when they are not going to be here,” he said.
“It’s a really difficult one to deal with; players are sick, players are coming back, players are disappearing for Covid, are they going to go are they not (to AFCON), are there replacements available, can we afford them?”
The Covid-enforced break in fixtures could lead to a return to the matchday squad of wing-backs Albert Adomah and Lee Wallace, who have been sidelined with hamstring injuries, with fit-again duo Moses Odubajo and Lyndon Dykes likely to be in the squad.
“Yesterday was the first time we welcomed back after 10 days a full group of players, so the last two matches we simply could not have fielded a team,” Warburton said.
“But what it has done is given us a chance to see if we can Lee fit enough for Monday, that will be tight, whether Albert will be fit, again that is tight.
“But I have to be mindful that we have games on the 30th and January 2 so we can’t just throw players back in as they will break down again.
“All these things are going on when you have games to prepare for on the 27th, 30th, the 2nd.”