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Dexter relishing Villa challenge

PUBLISHED: 17:47 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:21 24 August 2010

Blackstock goes fourth... Dexter Blackstock (left), Mikele Leigertwood and Martin Rowlands are looking forward to facing Martin O'Neill and Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Fourth Round

Blackstock goes fourth... Dexter Blackstock (left), Mikele Leigertwood and Martin Rowlands are looking forward to facing Martin O'Neill and Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Fourth Round

Having secured a rare passage through to the third round of the Carling Cup last week, QPR have been given the chance to test their mettle against Premier League outfit Aston Villa later this month.

BY NOAM FRIEDLANDER

Having secured a rare passage through to the third round of the Carling Cup last week, QPR have been given the chance to test their mettle against Premier League outfit Aston Villa later this month.

The Hoops were drawn against Martin O'Neill's side in Saturday's draw and, according to striker Dexter Blackstock, they might even surprise their top flight opponents at Villa Park on Wednesday September 24.

"Villa have done really well," says the former England under-21 hitman, "Martin O'Neill's brought in some good, young, English players and I like the way they play. I hope I'm involved and hopefully we can get a result. I don't see why not."

Unlike previous managers at QPR, Iain Dowie is one of the few recent incumbents at Loftus Road who has had some successful cup runs.

While at Coventry, his side managed to dump Manchester United out of the Carling Cup with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford back in September 2007.

But QPR have their own history in the League Cup, and it reads thus - not a single appearance in the fourth round since November 1995, when they were knocked out by... Aston Villa.

The Midlands side also ushered the Rs out through the tournament's exit door at the second round stage in 2004, but Blackstock is certain that the club will benefit from being pitted against one of the country's top sides.

"It's a good draw for us to test where we're at," says Blackstock. "We're moving in the right direction but we need to see where we're really at so going to Villa Park and giving it our best shot, that's a test for us."

Since the woeful 3-0 defeat against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane earlier this season, Blackstock has been moved into the lone striker position with two auxiliary attackers and three midfielders behind him.

Would he prefer more support up front? The forward is diplomatic in his answer.

"I don't mind," he says. "As long as I'm playing and scoring and picking up points, I don't mind being the lone striker up front.

"It's not about me, it's about the team and if the manager thinks that's best for the team, then that's it."

Considering the Rangers midfield is flooded with talent, with loan players Lee Cook, Emmanuel Ledesma and Daniel Parejo joining Martin Rowlands, Hogan Ephraim, Akos Buzsaky, Gavin Mahon and Mikele Leigertwood, being recognised as an out and out striker probably suits Blackstock.

"I'm happy playing," he says, "and there's a lot of competition for places. If you want to get promoted you've got to get a good squad and that's what we've got and what we're building."

Blackstock believes that the Rs have a real shot at promotion this season, but with nearly 40 games left to play it's early days yet.

His goal at Bristol City helped Dowie's side put more points on the board in the fledgling Championship campaign, and the unorthodox 18th minute strike was also a first for the 22-year-old frontman.

"I've never scored on the floor before," says Blackstock, after he fell in front of goal but managed to flick the ball over the keeper and into the net.

"It was a weird goal, a bit scruffy but a goal's a goal. We really battled when we went down to 10 men, and we were down to 10 men for quite some time so we were all happy to be going back to west London with a point.


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