Beat around the Bush: Doyle already emerging as a QPR favourite

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s safe to say most QPR fans feared the worst when news came filtering through last week that their star striker Charlie Austin would play no further part in this campaign after injuring his shoulder against Bolton.

The former Burnley striker has been in inspired form for the Rs this season – netting on 15 occasions - and without him Rangers would be a lot worse off.

Harry Redknapp must have thought his luck was well and truly out, after already losing another of his key players – Danny Simpson – for a prolonged period.

Many would agree that QPR have the best squad in the Championship, but their over-reliance on Austin has been particularly worrying, so without him and already 10 points adrift of leaders Leicester Redknapp had reason to worry.

So when deadline day came around this year many were probably expecting Rangers to splash the cash like they have done so often in recent years, and for Harry to work his magic in the transfer market, something we have also seen so many times in the past.

On social networking site Twitter Rs fans called for Rs chairman Tony Fernandes to replace Austin with an out-and-out goalscorer, with the most popular choice being Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes and also Reading hit-man Adam Le Fondre.

None of those deals materialised with Fernandes insisting the club had learnt from their mistakes and would not be spending mega money this time out.

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However, it was reported the west London side had lost out in the battle to land highly-rated French under-21 international Paul Georges-Ntep in a deal worth 6.5million euros, and also were thwarted in a bid to bring Toronto-bound striker Jermain Defoe to the club on a loan. Neither of these two strikers would have been a cheap option.

So after these setbacks Rangers were forced to utilise the loan market in a bid to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive, with Redknapp bringing in no less than four strikers to Loftus Road.

West Ham United misfit Modibo Maiga joined the club along with highly-rated Manchester United youngster Will Keane and young Brazilian striker Guilherme Dellatorre. However, perhaps the most intriguing deal of all was to bring Irish international Kevin Doyle to the club.

The 30-year-old has proven pedigree at this level but his career has stalled over the last few years, coinciding with Wolves’ tumble from the Premier League to the third tier of English football.

After just three goals in 21 appearances in League One many were questioning Redknapp’s motive to bring in Doyle, especially when their promotion bid to the Premier League is in desperate need of firepower.

Seven minutes into his debut against Burnley and Redknapp’s faith in Doyle was rewarded, as he headed home from Niko Kranjcar’s corner to give the Rs an early lead.

It wasn’t just the fact he got himself a debut goal, but his tireless work ethic and determination to succeed - the same qualities the man he replaced also has in abundance – would have immediately endeared himself to the home faithful.

Redknapp has taken a gamble taking Doyle to the club, but I believe it is one which will pay off in the end.

He may not score as many goals as Austin between now and the end of the season but he will create them too, and like his Irish counterpart Richard Dunne will become a fans favourite with the Rs faithful.

Age is also on Doyle’s side as he is still only 30 so has a few years ahead of him yet. With a bit of luck he can become a club legend, and firing the Rs to promotion wouldn’t be a bad start at all.