Rangers have brought in defensive cover, but they might be short of options at the other end of the pitch this weekend.
Ishmael Miller is ill with a virus – so much so he’s apparently been confined to bed for the last couple of days – and Heidar Helguson is carrying a knock. Both are a doubt for Saturday’s game and will be assessed before the squad leaves for Hull tomorrow.
If neither player is available, Warnock won’t have much room for manoeuvre. Maybe that justifies his reluctance to let Leon Clarke leave on loan.
Warnock has circulated the names of four players for loan transfer – and Clarke isn’t one of them. Neither is Hogan Ephraim, who has been monitored by Millwall and one or two other clubs.
Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook, Gary Borrowdale and Antonio German have been made available. No surprises there. All four are almost certain to go elsewhere in the near future and a long-term loan would effectively end Borrowdale’s time at QPR, as his contract expires this summer.
A number of clubs asked about Clarke earlier in the season, and there’s been more interest of late. But Warnock has spoken to the player and told him he does not want him to go.
That’s not quite the same as not being prepared to let him go, which seems to be his stance on Ephraim at the moment. Whether that remains the case should a club make a firm offer remains to be seen.
It’ll also be interesting to see how quickly Dan Shittu is seen as a viable first-team selection. Not that it matters too much at the moment, as he’s been brought in purely as cover.
Shittu has already played in his first game since returning to the club. He took part in a full-scale practice match today. So did Pascal Chimbonda. And Fitz Hall.
There’s no doubt though that Shittu is behind the rest of the players in terms of fitness, and his hamstring problem will need to be carefully managed.
So too will Akos Buzsaky, who was this morning told that he can return to full training on Monday morning. He’s now being lined up for a reserve game.
I’ve taken a bit of stick for some earlier comments about Buzsaky – particularly in light of Adel Taarabt’s spellbinding performances.
I still believe Buzsaky, fitness permitting, is the best player in the division. That was my view when he wasn’t even an automatic choice at Plymouth, and it’s my view now. And I still think he’s head and shoulders above every other QPR player in terms of being equipped for the Premier League.
That said, after three bad injuries in quick succession – two of them knee injuries – only time will tell how much of an impact he can make, and how he might fit into a team that’s been successfully built around Taarabt.
Last season he struggled badly for sharpness and form, and since then had a decent go at replacing Alejandro Faurlin in a deeper role, but was never comfortable.
Yet, even when he lacked sharpness and was desperately low on confidence last season, look at how many goals he scored and created. And that was Buzsaky at his worst.
If he can get some sharpness back, he can play at the top level. I don’t doubt that for a second.
But the team’s done more than well without him, has a new hero in Taarabt, and Buzsaky can’t afford another setback. For those reasons alone, it may take months rather than weeks to ease him back in.