Injuries leave Hoops hampered
Mark Hughes admits injuries have left Queens Park Rangers short at the back for this weekend's trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
The R's have only picked up two points from their opening four Premier League matches and face a challenge to add to their tally on Sunday.
Hughes will have to do without a number of key defenders against Spurs, with Anton Ferdinand, Fabio, Armand Traore and Stephane Mbia all unavailable through injury.
They join Samba Diakite, Andy Johnson and possibly Adel Taarabt on the sidelines - a situation Hughes admits is far from ideal.
"We have got a number of injuries at the back, unfortunately," the QPR manager said.
"Anton is not going to be available, although [his hamstring injury] is actually settling down a little bit quicker than we thought initially.
"That is good news but he is not going to be available this weekend and Fabio is going to be out for a number of weeks, which is a blow.
"To compound that, Armand Traore is not available either because of injury so we're going to have to move people around to compensate for that.
"Samba Diakite is not ready to be involved at first-team level yet. He needs a little bit more conditioning work to be ready for the Premier League.
"Adel Taarabt didn't complete the session today so we will have to check him tomorrow.
"He felt a bit of tightness [in his hamstring] so might not be available, so we've got a number of injuries moving into the game unfortunately.
"Stephane is not ready either. He still has a little bit of discomfort from the injury he picked up on international duty.
"It is one of those that has improved significantly but it is the last five percent of the injury, he is still getting a bit of pain when he sprints at full pace.
"We're not going to risk him this weekend. He might be an option in midweek but hopefully we'll get him back for this time next week."
One players who will not be back soon is summer acquisition Johnson. The former England striker has been ruled out for the majority of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up against Chelsea last weekend.
"We're upset obviously for Andy and for ourselves as a club and as a team," Hughes said.
"He showed us in his time with us why we brought him to the club, with the qualities that he has.
"Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to use those qualities for a significant amount of time.
"His energy and his undoubted ability will be a loss for us but obviously you build your squad so you can cope when you have long-term injuries.
"The absence of Andy will allow other players to come to the fore, I am sure."
While on-field matters remain Hughes' immediate focus, the ongoing John Terry case continues to rumble on in the background.
The Spurs match comes the day before the Football Association's hearing starts into allegations the Chelsea defender racially abused Ferdinand, which Terry denies.
It was reported this week that the QPR defender is considering civil action against Terry should he escape serious punishment from the FA, but that is not a course of action Hughes is aware of.
"I think everybody is hoping it is going to come to a conclusion and an end sooner rather than later," Hughes said.
"I have not had a conversation with Anton in that regard (civil action).
"I am not sure if that is actually his thinking, certainly I've not had a conversation in that regard to what options he has open to him.
"But I am sure we will find that in the coming weeks if that's a route he wants to take.
"We're at a point where it could have a conclusion but, like I said, it is not a decision I can have any influence on in all honesty."