QPR manager sets New Year target
QPR boss Neil Warnock admits he will be ‘delighted’ if his side can hang on to an automatic promotion place over the holiday period.
Rangers’ position at the top of the Championship now appears to be under increased threat following their back-to-back defeats by Watford and Leeds.
And their next three fixtures are all against opponents in the top six, as Swansea’s Boxing Day visit to Loftus Road is followed by away games at Coventry and Norwich.
The Rs’ FA Cup third round tie at Blackburn on January 8 is sandwiched by a home match, against Bristol City, and another awkward-looking trip to Burnley.
“I’d like to think, if we can be in the top two on the journey back from Burnley, I’d be delighted,” Warnock declared. “It’s the most difficult period of the season, these next few games, and it’ll be interesting to see where we are.
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“That’ll be 26 games out of the way – without any postponements, hopefully – and then we’ll have played nine out of the top 10 away.
“We’ve still done remarkably well and I know things aren’t always going to run smoothly, but everyone has got problems.”
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Warnock intends to vary his team selection during the Christmas and New Year schedule and is likely to bring forward duo Patrick Agyemang and Antonio German back into the squad.
Agyemang missed last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Leeds with a groin strain, while teenager German is back at Loftus Road after spending the last six weeks on loan with Southend.
German had originally agreed a three-month deal to play for the League Two side and made seven appearances in a Southend shirt, but the two clubs consented to cut the arrangement short.
Warnock added: “We’ll see how things go with German. I don’t think he’ll go out on loan again for a while – he’ll be with us now at least until the middle of January.
“Agyemang should be all right for the Swansea game and we’ve missed him, really – he adds something different. He’s a handful for anybody and that’s what he’s good at, upsetting defenders.
“After Swansea we’re going to have to make changes, with the squad we’ve got playing four games in nine days. So there will be other people getting opportunities.”
QPR’s Boxing Day clash with Swansea – who dropped to fourth place after their 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United, coupled with the result at Elland Road – kicks off at 1pm.
They then have another early start two days later against Coventry at the Ricoh Arena – the match, which is live on Sky Sports, gets under way at 12.15pm.