Queens Park Rangers boss Mark Warburton has tested positive for Covid-19, but could be set to return to the dugout for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against Fulham with his isolation period coming to an end before the clash at Craven Cottage.
The 59-year-old tested positive for the virus last week after feeling unwell – and continues to remain in isolation whilst assistant manager John Eustace takes charge of training ahead of their important clash with the Cottagers.
Warburton’s men have started the season in a promising fashion, losing their consistency after the last international break but recovering well in their last two games against Birmingham City and Preston North End to climb back into the play-off zone.
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Currently, they sit in sixth place, one point above seven-placed Huddersfield Town and just four points away from the top two, as they look to cement their place as firm promotion candidates throughout the 2021/22 campaign.
This weekend’s opponents Fulham also struggled at times after the previous international interval, but didn’t finish their recent set of games well and fell to a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Coventry City in their last league match.
The two sides’ promotion ambitions and their local rivalry sets up what looks set to be a mouth-watering tie in west London, with a win for either side boosting their Premier League aspirations ten-fold.
Mark Warburton is set to return to the dugout in time for this game though, saying to the club’s media team on his current condition: “I tested positive after feeling unwell.
“Thankfully, I am double-jabbed and now appear to be over the worst of it.
“My time off last week coincided with the players having a pre-agreed few days off going into the international break.
“This week will see John Eustace prepare the squad for Saturday’s game at Fulham. I have been in regular contact with John and will continue to be so until I resume my normal duties at the end of the week.”
Although Mark Warburton’s Covid diagnosis is a blow and you can wish him nothing but the very in his recovery from the virus, they are in a safe pair of hands under John Eustace who is highly-rated at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium and previously looked set to set to join Swansea City as head coach in the summer.
That move didn’t materialise in the end, but the Swans’ loss is QPR’s gain and the R’s couldn’t have hoped for anyone better to be in charge in the absence of Warburton ahead of what looks set to be a crucial game for them, with their place on the top six on the line.
It’s still early days in the season, but fully establishing themselves as top-six candidates who are there to stay throughout the season will only give them more confidence and could help to avoid final-day heartbreak with play-off places often being decided in a dramatic fashion.
Thankfully for the rest of the squad, they didn’t seem to be in contact with Warburton at the time he contracted the virus so there doesn’t seem to have seen a Covid outbreak across the whole camp, the last thing they needed ahead of an important tie.
And most importantly, Mark Warburton seems to be on the mend. Having him back in the dugout would be a huge boost, so a return to full fitness for the manager will be at the top of their wishlist this week.