Papa Bouba Diop admits a deal needs to be struck between Barclays Premiership clubs and African teams over the use of international players.

Fulham are furious they will have been without Diop, their most valuable player, for over two months as a result of call-ups by Senegal.

Diop departed for the African Nations Cup in early January and returned last month, making a substitute appearance in the 2-1 defeat by Bolton.

But a bruised foot sustained playing for Senegal during the recent friendly window has curtailed any further involvement and he is not expected to return until Sunday’s clash with Chelsea.

The 28-year-old sympathises with the anger felt by Fulham and other Premiership clubs in the same predicament and revealed African players are torn by divided loyalties.

“Of course I understand the frustration of English clubs at losing their players midway through a season,” he said

“I think it is important to understand that we as the players share this frustration to a certain extent.

“We are caught in the situation where we love playing for our clubs but it is also an honour to play for our countries.

“I do think, however, that it’s getting to the stage now where the authorities need to sit down and reach a reasonable solution so both sides can be happy with the outcome.”

Diop, who will miss Wednesday’s trip to Liverpool, added: “Getting injured so soon after the African Nations Cup was incredibly frustrating.

“I picked up the injury during the international friendly week, so that was difficult for me.

“I just have to concentrate on getting myself back to full fitness now as the club has some very big games on the horizon.”

The competition for places in Fulham’s midfield increased while Diop was in Egypt with the arrival of Michael Brown and Simon Elliott giving boss Chris Coleman more options.

Neither newcomer will keep a fit Diop out of the side but the towering anchorman, nicknamed the ‘Wardrobe’, has been impressed by their impact at Craven Cottage.

“They are very good signings. Unfortunately Browny got injured against Man United but I heard that he played very well while he was on the pitch,” he said.

“I have seen Simon play first hand and I think he has been excellent. He is a tireless worker and has brought a real drive to the midfield.

“His ability with set-pieces as well is very impressive – he has set up a few goals already which is great.

“Most importantly the signings we have made during January have improved Fulham as a team which, at the end of it all, is most vital.”

Diop has targeted a first away win of the season – Fulham have yet to triumph on the road – as the main objective when he returns from injury, if it has not already happened at Anfield.

“My hopes for the rest of the campaign are pretty straight forward – for us as a squad to work as hard as we can between now and the end,” he said.

“We want to continue our strong home performances while also improving our away record and picking up as many points as we can so we can keep pushing up the Premiership.”