Depleted side can still rout Rovers, says QPR boss

NEIL Warnock maintains QPR can pull off an FA Cup shock at Blackburn – even though he will rest players for next month’s third round tie.

The Rangers boss has confirmed he will not select his first choice team at Ewood Park, citing an intense league schedule of four games in just over a week that precedes the Blackburn trip.

That decision is unlikely to please Rs supporters, who have watched their team stumble through a full decade of FA Cup disgrace and humiliation without a single win.

Warnock admitted: “I can’t see certain players playing four games in nine days and then a cup game after that. If I have a choice, the fifth one’s the least important to me at the moment.

“If we were mid-table in the Championship, I’d try and win it, and we’ll still go out and try to win the game – you’ve always got a chance – but it’s not a priority.

“Blackburn have got a squad of 25 and I’d imagine they’ll want to play as many of those as they can. That’s why we’ve got an opportunity to win it, whatever team we put out.

“Remember, Ian Holloway played 11 different lads and Blackpool only lost to the last kick of the match. It’s about the squad and I think we’ve got a good squad, but I definitely want to rest some in that game.

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“It’ll be good to go there without any points at stake. If we’re still top of the league come the FA Cup, I’ll be absolutely delighted.”

Compared to the likes of Grimsby, Luton – and, of course, Vauxhall Motors – QPR’s 3-0 defeat at Blackburn in the third round five years ago ranks as one of their more respectable FA Cup results.

And, irrespective of the strengths of both sides, Warnock feels January’s rematch will be a good yardstick for the Rs’ progress this season, against the kind of mid-table Premier League club they could soon be aiming to match.

“No disrespect to Blackburn, but QPR’s that type of club – not a massive club but one that could sustain Premier League football,” added the QPR manager.

“Bolton, West Brom, Stoke City – they’re all great examples of that as well. I think it’ll be a good game for us to go and look at and enjoy the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, QPR went out of the FA Youth Cup on penalties after their first round tie with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night ended in a 2-2 draw.

Forest went ahead in the 17th minute when Neil Byrne headed in from a corner, but Rangers levelled just after the hour when Bruno Andrade had his shirt tugged in the penalty area.

Michael Doughty converted the spot-kick, but Forest regained the lead 10 minutes from time with a Patrick Bamford penalty, harshly awarded against Stephen O’Donnell.

Abdallah Shariff made it 2-2 just three minutes later, firing home at the second attempt.

But Forest triumphed 5-3 in the shoot-out after extra time, with Adam Francis sending his kick over the bar for Rangers.

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