Queens Park Rangers defender Ryan Nelsen has been appointed head coach at Major League Soccer club Toronto FC but has not yet left the west London club. The 35-year-old defender has been one of the few players to shine for the west Londoners this season, having joined in June following spells at Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur.
Nelsen has made 21 appearances in all competitions for QPR but has requested to enter dialogue with manager Harry Redknapp to discuss when he will join his new club. In the meantime, QPR have announced Nelsen will be available for this weekend's Premier League fixture against Tottenham.
Nelsen knows he owes a debt of gratitude to Redknapp, chairman Tony Fernandes and the club so does not want to cause unnecessary disruption. "I am under contract at QPR," he said, speaking at a press conference in Canada.
"Harry Redknapp and Tony Fernandes, the owner of QPR, are fantastic people. They are such nice people. I've got some obligations at QPR that we have just got to go through. It has been a bit of whirlwind so there are some details we have to go through."
Nelsen's playing contract at QPR runs until 30 June, but the defender admits his body is struggling to cope with the demands brought by top-flight football. "I've had several conversations with Harry and Tony Fernandes," the New Zealander said. "They have been so understanding with my situation.
"They understand that when I play I am playing on glass knees and glass ankles. It is a bit of a struggle. They know I am at the end but they also know the predicament they are in. It is a major predicament. Getting out the English Premier League has major financial implications and there is a lot of pressure from fans, the media and so on, so I have an obligation.
"I really want QPR to stay up and to kick on for Harry and because of the owner. They are just fantastic people. They would like me to keep playing but we have to sit down and talk. If we can get five straight wins, that'd be perfect. I think then we can shake hands [and part company] but we are just going to have to talk and see how things progress."
Nelsen is clear that there will be no playing role for him back in MLS, having made his name there during a four-year spell with DC United - another club he was recently linked to. The move to Canada will see him link up once against with the club's president and general manager Kevin Payne, who was an executive at DC United when Nelsen played there.
"From the day Ryan arrived in D.C. as a 23 year old player, I always knew he would be a head coach someday," Payne said. "I believe his leadership qualities, intelligence, preparation and character will contribute to his success as a coach. I couldn't ask for a better person to lead our club."