Time for Rangers to go shopping... sensibly

By Ben Kosky SINCE QPR kicked their last ball of the season, Neil Warnock has been unusually reticent about his plans to reshape Rangers squad for the next campaign. Warnock has stressed that he intends to make minimal use of the loan market, leading pun

By Ben Kosky

SINCE QPR kicked their last ball of the season, Neil Warnock has been unusually reticent about his plans to reshape Rangers' squad for the next campaign.

Warnock has stressed that he intends to make minimal use of the loan market, leading pundits to predict a frenzied and costly recruitment drive this summer - yes, another one.

But which areas of the squad genuinely require investment and which are already well-stocked? The Times takes a look at the current QPR playing roster to consider where the manager's energies should be focused:


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GOALKEEPERS

WHETHER he can persuade Julian Speroni to follow him across London or not, there can be little doubt that Warnock needs to sign a goalkeeper before August.

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Until the second half of last season, Radek Cerny's position appeared to be ring-fenced and many Rangers supporters remain convinced that he is a sound presence between the posts.

But Cerny's howlers have become too frequent and, with no obvious replacement within the squad at this stage, Rangers must secure Speroni or someone of his calibre to be their number one.

DEFENCE

THERE'S certainly no need for Warnock to be looking at centre-halves - this is perhaps his strongest suit, with Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart and Matthew Connolly likely to be joined against next season by Fitz Hall.

Peter Ramage must also be counted among the candidates for a central role after his successful transition from right-back, although the side-effect has been to leave a vacancy in that role.

Given time, Josh Parker could grow into the position, so Warnock may put off chasing another right-back for now. The left-hand side is another matter.

The Rs boss appears uninterested in trying to agree a permanent deal for Dusko Tosic and does not seem to rate Gary Borrowdale - so he must sign another left-back, preferably not the highly average Matt Hill.

MIDFIELD

MIKELE Leigertwood and Alejandro Faurlin have forged a promising partnership in the centre of the park and the returns of Martin Rowlands and possibly Gavin Mahon will provide competition for places.

It will be interesting to see whether Warnock continues to deploy Akos Buzsaky in a central position rather than wide, while Hogan Ephraim is another player who has been shoehorned into a winger's role that may not be the best vehicle for his talents.

If Lee Cook can recapture his best form and Angelo Balanta continues to push for a starting role, Rangers should have sufficient options on the left flank.

Warnock may consider searching for an old-fashioned winger to replace Wayne Routledge on the opposite side - but his track record suggests he is more likely to use a surplus striker - possibly Jamie Mackie - to fill in when necessary.

ATTACK

WARNOCK has made no secret of his desire to sign forwards this summer and it's hard to disagree that Rangers are in desperate need of new blood up front - but fans were probably hoping for better than Mackie.

They haven't had an effective target man since Paul Furlong left three years ago and Warnock must remedy that by bringing in someone with strong credentials at Championship level.

Much depends on whether the manager intends to field two specialist strikers or one playing off the target man - if the latter, he has men within the squad who can fill that role effectively.

If not, we can expect him to sign one more striker to compete with Patrick Agyemang and Antonio German - and whoever does check in at Loftus Road can hardly be worse than Tamas Priskin.

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