Blades win puts QPR on the brink of promotion
MONDAY’S triumph against Sheffield United left QPR a maximum of three more wins away from sealing a return to the Premier League.
A victory at bottom side Scunthorpe this weekend would mean Rangers could be promoted if they beat Barnsley on Tuesday night, depending on other results.
If back-to-back away successes are not quite enough to take Neil Warnock’s men over the line, then a win in their next home game, against Derby on April 18, would confirm Rangers’ place back in the top flight after a 15-year absence.
Warnock is determined not to count any chickens yet, but forward Tommy Smith admitted: “We’re so close now it’s hard not to think about it, to be honest.
“But we need to stay focused. We just want to wrap it all up as quickly as possible.”
Two goals from Wayne Routledge and a peach of a strike from Alejandro Faurlin saw off Warnock’s former club, who look destined for relegation to League One.
If Faurlin has been affected by the furore over the FA charges relating both to his move to QPR in 2009 and his subsequent contract extension, it has not shown in his performances, which have been excellent.
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“I think it did affect him at first. He’s such a bubby character and it was obvious that it was all playing on his mind,” Smith revealed.
“I suppose something like that is bound to affect you, but he’s settled down and not let it get to him.
“There was some uncertainty at first, but the manager spoke to us and told us to just concentrate on playing football, which is our job.
“We’ve responded to that, and I think Ali in particular has been outstanding.
He’s got so much quality.
“I’m told that when he first came here he didn’t like the nitty-gritty side of the game. I find that hard to believe now, looking at him.”
Smith, too, has become more influential as the season has worn on. Initially used as a substitute following his August move from Portsmouth, the 30-year-old was required to step up to the plate in the wake of Jamie Mackie’s broken leg, and has emphatically done so.
“I’m loving it at the moment,” Smith declared. “I’ve not been given a specific role, either through the middle or on the wing.
“We all know where we need to be when we haven’t got the ball. Other than that, the manager’s just said to me ‘you’re a forward, just go and play’ and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it.”