McClaren set for first league game with QPR
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Rs make the long trip to Deepdale this Saturday
Steve McClaren will take charge of Queens Park Rangers in a competitive match for the first time on Saturday when the west Londoners start their new Sky Bet Championship campaign at Preston North End.
The 57-year-old took over from Ian Holloway in May and has been busy over the summer adapting to his new charges.
The former England boss has also had to contend with losing the likes of Nedum Onuoha, Jack Robinson and Alex Smithies.
With the Rs relatively quiet in the transfer market so far, McClaren has had to make the best out of the players at his disposal as opposed to bringing new faces in.
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The former Derby County manager, though, insists he has been thrilled with what he has seen from the squad so far, adding it has given him some selection dilemmas ahead of the opening game.
“It’s intriguing coming in and working with this group because there are quite a few combinations where people like playing with each other and combine very well,” said McClaren.
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“You’ve got Luke Freeman, who likes playing with Jake Bidwell and with Ebere Eze, who likes playing with Bright Osayi-Samuel, and things like that are encouraging.
“I’m miles away from knowing my best XI because they are all doing very well in training and showing that in the game.
“Saturday will be interesting because it’s a totally different ball game. It’s Preston, it will be intense with a quicker tempo and a better atmosphere, so we need a strong mentality.
“(Since I’ve joined, it’s been) so far, so good, but I’ll know a lot more after the Preston game.”
McClaren could be handed a boost with defender Grant Hall nearing a return to match action after being out since January through injury.
The trip to Preston may come too soon for the 26-year-old, but McClaren hinted a return to pitch is not too far away for Hall.
“Grant’s trained very well after getting the OK from the specialist,” added the Rs boss.
Hall’s return to action could not be better timed for the Rs, who do look a little short at centre-back.
But they may have to do without the former Tottenham Hotspur trainee when they make the trip to Preston this weekend.