Fulham boss Chris Coleman has become the latest Barclays Premiership manager to bemoan the fitness levels of players returning from international duty after losing midfielder Papa Bouba Diop for Saturday’s clash with unbeaten Aston Villa.
Diop, who played in the 2-1 victory over Charlton on Monday night, has collected a thigh injury which rules him out of the trip to Villa Park.
Coleman insists the player has a history of being below par whenever he returns from duty with Senegal and is now considering barring him from playing in international friendlies.
Diop’s latest international appearance was in their 1-0 African Nations Cup qualifying defeat by Burkino Faso and Coleman maintains he has not been right since he returned.
Coleman declared: “I think it is fatigue. He got a knock on his thigh on Monday night but every time he comes back from Senegal, he comes back with a problem. It must be the travelling.
We are the club and we pay our players well. It is frustrating when we get them back after international duty and don’t get the best out of them.
“It frustrates me. We can’t stop him playing in competitive matches but maybe friendlies we can when it is not working for us. That’s what I am interested in.
“All I would say is that it has to be on a fair basis. If he’s not in the same nick, then I’ve got to question it. It is a problem.”
Fulham go to Villa already without the services of captain Luis Boa Morte (cheekbone), midfielder Jimmy Bullard (knee), Simon Elliot and Mark Pembridge (both calf) and Philippe Christanval (knee).
Villa are the last unbeaten team in England but Coleman claims his side will approach the clash without any fear.
Fulham have only been beaten by Chelsea and Manchester United so far this season and they have become as difficult to beat as Martin O’Neill’s Villa.
Coleman said: “You look at Martin’s track record and he’s done well wherever he’s been. It’s a great achievement to still be unbeaten in the Premiership and they’re doing really well.
“We’ve lost two games, to Manchester United and Chelsea, and played a few sides in the top six so it’s not been the easiest start to the season but we’ve been doing well.
“We’re similar to Villa at the minute in that we’re hard to beat and that’s always a good sign. We’re away from home tomorrow and we’ve got to be resilient.
“We’ve shown that we’re a good team this season and harder to beat than last season. We’ve got to go there with confidence and belief because there’s nothing to be afraid of and we’ll be going there to take the points back to London.”
Coleman will change the side which struggled to overcome Charlton on Monday and he urged goal hero Claus Jensen to seize the moment if he starts against the West Midlands side.
Coleman added: “Although we won the game against Charlton on Monday night we didn’t play well in the first half.
“Claus did a great job when he came on. I said before the game it’s all up to Claus and he’d get his chance sooner or later. If he starts tomorrow, he’s got to take the opportunity.”