QPR striker Bobby Zamora ruled out for three months


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The Independent Football

Under-fire manager Mark Hughes may be leading QPR into this weekend's trip to Manchester United but he will have to do so without Bobby Zamora after the club today confirmed the striker faces three months on the sidelines.

The news of the 31-year-old's prolonged absence is the latest in a series of recent blows suffered by the west Londoners, whose options up front are looking worryingly thin.

Zamora, signed from rivals Fulham in January, has been struggling for a while with the hip complaint that worsened recently and now requires surgery.

The England international is awaiting a date to go under the knife for what the club described today as an "exploratory operation" that will keep him out until February.

"R's front-man Bobby Zamora is set for a period on the sidelines owing to injury," QPR said on their official website.

"The 31-year-old striker will undergo an exploratory operation following a recent hip injury sustained in training.

"The injury is likely to see Zamora sidelined for approximately three months."

Reports have even suggested Zamora could miss the remainder of the season, which would be a huge blow for beleaguered QPR as they already have fellow striker Andrew Johnson out with a long-term injury.

The summer signing, who partnered Zamora at Fulham, sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Chelsea in September that is likely to rule him out for most, if not all, of the campaign.

Those injuries leave Djibril Cisse as QPR's only remaining fit out-and-out striker - a concern given the Frenchman has netted just one league goal this season.

Fellow front men Jay Bothroyd, Rob Hulse and DJ Campbell are all out on loan, meaning Jamie Mackie may have to fill the void up front despite having been moved into a role out wide.

Those lack of options mean Hughes will have some interesting juggling to do if he is to help QPR get back to winning ways.

The Welshman had been expected to lead his side to a comfortable mid-table finish this season, with a host of big-name summer signings raising expectations in Shepherd's Bush.

Park Ji-sung, Julio Cesar and Julio Hoilett all arrived at Loftus Road but they have been unable to help QPR win any of their 12 Premier League outings this season.

The Hoops languish bottom of the standings and have just four points to their name, leading to heightened speculation this week that manager Hughes could see his reign ended after just 10 months.

Last weekend's embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton looked like it could be the final straw for the Welshman, with odds shortening to as low as 1/10 yesterday on him becoming the first Premier League manager to leave his post.

Chelsea's Roberto di Matteo subsequently beat him to that unfortunate landmark and Hughes now looks set to lead QPR to Manchester United, with the club this morning announcing he will be in attendance at the Friday press conference previewing the trip to his former club.

The trip to the north-west starts a tough, and potentially decisive, run of fixtures for Hughes, whose side then travel to Sunderland before they then welcome Aston Villa to Loftus Road, which also welcomes Fulham, West Brom and Liverpool in December.