Connolly back to his best ahead of QPR’s promotion clash at Cardiff

Matt Connolly says he is back to his best in time for QPR’s crunch promotion clash with Cardiff on Saturday.

The Rangers defender insists he never doubted he would win back his place in the QPR side, despite recently being left out by manager Neil Warnock after a second-half horror show after coming on as a substitute against Leicester last month.

The former Arsenal defender has bounced back with solid displays, first at Barnsley last week and then during Monday night’s goalless draw against Derby.

Despite a frustrating night against the Rams, Rangers remain on course for a return to the Premier League, and a win at Cardiff on Saturday would seal promotion.

“I think we can go to Cardiff and do it,” said Connolly. “It’s not an impossible task, and I think there’ll be more pressure on them than us. We’ll go out there to win the game.

“It never really occurred to me that I might not get back in [the side]. I felt there would be games where the gaffer might play me or someone might get injured.

“These things always happen in football, so you can’t just sit and sulk and think that you’re not going to get back in. I worked hard and I think you can see I have.

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“I really enjoyed the Barnsley game and Monday’s too. It’s great to be back and now I need to keep my place in the team.

“It’s been a difficult time for me, but I kept my head down and knew that my time might come and I might be needed. Luckily, I was.

“I have belief in myself and my ability. I just went through a difficult period.”


Clinching promotion in the Welsh capital would be particularly sweet for Rangers fans, given the club’s painful defeat against Cardiff – at the Millennium Stadium - in the 2003 Division Two play-off final.

And it would give Connolly a chance to fulfil his dream of facing the likes of Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba in the top flight.

“I always watch the top players and wonder what it would be like to play against them,” the 23-year-old admitted. “I was at Arsenal and experienced Thierry Henry in training. He was the master.

“If we go up I’ll look forward to testing myself against those kind of players and would hopefully hold my own.”