Samba is injured - Redknapp
Christopher Samba is injured and there is no other reason behind his absence from the first team in recent weeks, according to QPR manager Harry Redknapp.
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Samba, 29, moved to Loftus Road on the final day of the January transfer window but despite his big-money arrival was unable to help prevent Rangers from falling to Barclays Premier League relegation.
The Congo international joined from Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala as QPR owner Tony Fernandes backed Redknapp in the transfer market.
After playing in the 2-0 defeat at home to Stoke, Samba dropped out of the squad ahead of the goalless draw against Reading that sealed Rangers' fate.
Redknapp said after the game that the former Blackburn defender was suffering from a knee problem, although there were suggestions of Samba missing out due to a difference of opinions with his manager.
But, despite going on to miss the loss against Arsenal and being ruled out of Sunday's clash with Newcastle, Redknapp maintains it is a fitness issue that keeps Samba sidelined.
"It's just an injury, nothing more to him than that," the 66-year-old said.
"He's got several little injuries. I think maybe when he came here he wasn't probably up to speed with the Russian season and he has picked up loads of little niggles.
"That's the problem for him. We could force him out to play but we don't know whether he'd break down and set him back."
Redknapp is a big admirer of Samba, as the rumoured £12.5million fee to secure his services suggests, but does not feel the defender has been able to show his best form at QPR.
"When he's fit I still think he's a top player," he added.
"Talking to [Everton manager] David Moyes about him last night, he said the same thing. He could play for any top-six team.
"It's been disappointing that he has picked up these injuries and hasn't shown the form that we know he is capable of."
With plenty of money spent and a number of big-name players still in place, many make QPR favourites to secure an immediate return to the top flight.
But Redknapp has already said it will be a challenge and wants to change the culture of the club by bringing in players he feels will bring a better work ethic to the dressing room, with the ex-Tottenham manager placing as much emphasis on character as ability.
4. Christopher Samba
"It is right up there with it for me," he said.
"It needs to be. We need good characters like that. When I took over at Portsmouth, I brought good lads in who were just fantastic and they made the difference for me. It made the job easy.
"If you look this year, people like Clint Hill has been excellent. He is a good lad, good pro. There are people like him around. You need a good group of them and all of them pulling together."
QPR welcome Newcastle to Loftus Road on Sunday with the Magpies still involved in the fight to avoid the final relegation place and, with Samba still unavailable, Redknapp is likely to name the same starting line-up which played against Arsenal last weekend.