QPR could look to bring in reinforcements in January with the African Cup Of Nations set to rob them of Ilias Chair and Seny Dieng for potentially up to six weeks.
The 2021 tournament, which was due to take place last year but was cancelled due to Covid-19, kicks off in Cameroon on January 9 with the final to be played in Yaounde on February 6.
Chair will link up with Morocco, with goalkeeper Dieng set to be included in the Senegal squad as back-up to Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and defender Osman Kakay expected to be part of Sierra Leone squad for their first appearance at the tournament since 1996.
The bi-annual showpiece was initially due to take place in June and July 2021 before being moved to January 2022 after nations expressed concerns about the stifling conditions in Cameroon at that time of year.
The loss of Dieng and Chair, who are key players in a Rangers side pushing for promotion, will be a big blow, with reports Fifa will demand clubs release players for pre-tournament training camps after Boxing Day.
Although this has not been officially confirmed to clubs, if correct, the Rangers trio would be unavailable for the fixture with fellow high-flyers Bournemouth, which has been moved to December 27.
They would also miss the trip to Bristol City on December 30, January’s Championship fixtures against Birmingham, West Brom, Coventry and Reading, in addition to the FA Cup third-round tie early in the new year and potentially the match at Millwall on February 5.
The prospect of updated government quarantine regulations also looms large and that may also keep the players further sidelined upon their returns to the UK.
Jordan Archer is currently the Rangers’ back-up keeper, with young prospect Joe Walsh behind him in the pecking order.
Chair, alongside Chris Willock, is Rangers’ most creative player, and boss Mark Warburton admits he is dreading being without two of the most important members of his side – and said moves may have to be made to bolster the squad to keep Rangers in the promotion picture.
“The dates we lose them is still to be confirmed. There is dialogue going back and forwards between Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League and what else, so we hope very much we get some answers as soon as possible,” Warburton said.
“I can’t sit here and say there’s no problem. We’ll deal with that then, because we are losing two of our starters.
“We have to find solutions and that is the job of all the staff, Les (Ferdinand), myself, John (Eustace) and Neil (Banfield).
“There are no easy answers. Clubs are losing quality international players at an important time of the season and we will have to look for the best possible solution.”