Ramage fights for the centre ground at Rangers

By Ben Kosky PETER Ramage pleaded for an extended run in central defence after his stop-gap performance helped QPR to a priceless victory at Crystal Palace. Ramage was switched from his regular role at right-back and impressed alongside Kaspars Gorkss aft

By Ben Kosky

PETER Ramage pleaded for an extended run in central defence after his stop-gap performance helped QPR to a priceless victory at Crystal Palace.

Ramage was switched from his regular role at right-back and impressed alongside Kaspars Gorkss after Damion Stewart's shocking head injury in the opening minute at Selhurst Park.

And the Geordie defender looks certain to stay there for Rangers' next four games, with neither Stewart nor Matthew Connolly - whose ankle injury has yet to heal - expected to play again this season.


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"It was a bittersweet pill to go in there after Damo's injury, but I loved every minute of it," Ramage told the Times. "Hopefully I can get a run in the team in that position.

"Centre-half is my position, if I'm honest. It's where I feel more comfortable and I played most of my games for Newcastle there in the Premier League, so I've been there and done it.

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"But I've had to stick at right-back and bide my time because we've got good centre-halves here - Matty Connolly's been magnificent wherever he's played and then you've got the big two, Damo and Kaspars.

"Now my chance has come and I thought I did well, but it wasn't just me in that back line. Kaspars was magnificent, Tosic was outstanding on his debut and Mikele was Mr Reliable.

"We owed the fans a performance and a win and a clean sheet as well and we got all of them. Every single player put in a great shift and the win's dedicated to Damo."

Stewart suffered a small fracture in his skull and bleeding after his clash with Palace striker Calvin Andrew, but hospital tests on Monday revealed no further damage.

He is likely to remain in hospital this weekend, when Rangers attempt to make certain of Championship safety in their home game against play-off contenders Cardiff.

That could pit Ramage directly against his friend and former Newcastle team-mate Michael Chopra and the Rangers defender has warned against any hint of complacency.

"We've given ourselves a massive chance, but the job's not done yet," he added. "Until we're mathematically safe, anything can happen and we've seen that in this league in the past.

"We've got to keep working hard, putting in performances like we did at Palace. Hopefully we can get there sooner rather than later and enjoy the rest of the season.

"Cardiff have got fantastic firepower - Chops, as well as Jay Bothroyd and Ross McCormack - and they'll come into the game looking to consolidate their position in the play-offs, so it's not going to be easy.

"But we're going in there with a huge amount of confidence - I think we can give anyone a game in this league and we proved that earlier in the season.

"It's been a very tough year - turbulent to say the least and hopefully the kind I'll never experience again. We want to give the fans something to hope for next season and putting on a little run would do that."

Victory against the Bluebirds would mathematically secure QPR's safety on Saturday, irrespective of other results, and a single point would almost certainly be sufficient.

Manager Neil Warnock could recall Gary Borrowdale from his loan at Charlton ahead of the weekend to provide additional defensive cover.

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