STEVE Kean is hopeful that Chris Samba will return for Saturday’s trip to Everton after insisting his skipper missed the win over Fulham through illness.

Chris Samba’s future was already shrouded in uncertainty after revealing his desire to quit Ewood Park earlier this week, with Saturday’s absence only adding fuel to the fire.

Queens Park Rangers have already had two bids turned down and, with Spurs also understood to be interested, Samba is ready for a fresh challenge.

QPR’s new boss Mark Hughes yesterday admitted he had not given up the chase for the defender, saying: “It’s common knowledge we put a bid in for Chris. If that is a situation that progresses all well and good, but we will have to wait and see.”

Rovers though are adamant their prized asset is not for sale and, despite him ringing in ill for training on Friday and for the win over Fulham, Kean is confident he won’t lose Samba this month.

Kean said: “He’s texted the doc and it was disappointing he wasn’t available for this game.

“He trained well all week and we’ll make sure he gets the proper medication to get over a nasty bug.

“But I’d rather talk about the lads that were out there because they were the ones putting their bodies on the line and dragging us out of the bottom three.

“There were some exceptional performances.

“I don’t think he’s thrown one in.

“He’s texted in and he’s not available. I’d rather talk about Gael Givet and Grant Hanley because they were exceptional.

“I can totally understand (why people might ask questions). I’ve not had the opportunity to speak with Chris. It’s happened before where foreign players have been misquoted.

“I’d like to have spoken to him on Friday morning but he texted in that he was having severe stomach cramps. He texted in again this morning that he was too weak to play.

“We’ll get him into the proper facility, get him to hospital to look after that and he’ll be back in again and hopefully ready for Everton. He’s not for sale, it’s as simple as that.”

Kean is hopeful of appointing his new assistant manager this week, with former Sunderland number two Eric Black and ex-Blackburn midfielder Billy McKinlay, currently working as a youth coach at Fulham, in contention.

The Rovers boss was furious with Yakubu’s red card against Fulham, but was not sure whether he would appeal.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll look at it and take advice from some referees that I know to see if we’ve got any chance.

“We know the Yak and we know he’s not malicious.”