The areas QPR must look to improve in the January transfer window
PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:12 11 January 2020
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With transfer rumous involving Queens Park Rangers in full swing, Dan Bennett looks at what the club needs to focus on in the January transfer window.
The summer certainly marked a busy first transfer window at QPR for boss Mark Warburton, who signed 15 players in a total rebuild of the squad.
But despite the number of players that were brought in, financial constraints on the club saw them spend very little money.
Rangers will adopt a similar approach in January, with Warburton already admitting that the club are not in a position to "open the chequebook".
However, with star man Ebere Eze continuously linked with a move to the Premier League, selling him would change what QPR are able to do in the transfer window.
Warburton has recruited well so far with the likes of Nahki Wells, Jordan Hugill, Luke Amos and Dom Ball particularly impressing.
Though despite a successful summer transfer window, there are still obvious weaknesses in the squad that must be addressed this month if Rangers are to mount a push up the Championship table.
The most obvious weakness is in defence, more specifically in central defence.
Warburton likes to use data as part of his decision making and the statistics of QPR's defensive record this season do not make for pretty reading.
In their 26 games this season, Rangers have conceded 48 goals, the third worst record in the division behind only the bottom two of Luton Town and Barnsley.
Of course given the attacking style of football the R's boss likes his teams to play, there will be goals conceded, but a new central defender who possesses the necessary level of quality would undoubtedly improve the side.
Yoann Barbet was signed on a free transfer in the summer and while his ability to bring the ball out from the back has been a bonus for the R's, his lapses in concentration and rash challenges have cost them points.
But his long-term injury has left Rangers very short in that area, with Grant Hall and Toni Leistner starting the majority of games together in his absence.
Leistner and Hall are both good enough for the Championship and while both have looked impressive in some games, neither have performed at their best level consistently.
But who would Rangers look to bring in?
Warburton was keen on bringing in Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna in the summer but was priced out of a move.
His performances for Aberdeen have certainly caught the eye, with Premier League Burnley also rumoured to be interested, and someone of his quality would be a huge signing for QPR.
But his price tag will make it very difficult for the club to complete a move for him, with Warburton and the board instead likely to be shrewd and make use of the loan market.
Tottenham youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers has been suggested as another target having recently been recalled from his loan spell at Stoke.
He is highly-rated and has huge potential but Rangers do risk becoming dependent on loan players, given Wells, Hugill and Luke Amos are all there on a temporary basis as it stands.
Carter-Vickers is certainly a realistic target, while there are a number of other Premier League defenders who will be looking for game time that could be interested in a move to QPR.
What is certain is that even with Barbet's return in a couple of weeks, QPR must look to bring in another option in that area of the pitch.
Rangers have not had a problem scoring goals this season but the only concern is that two of their top three goalscorers, Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill, are both on loan.
Wells has stated he would like to make his move to the club permanent but this is not certain to happen, while West Ham's Hugill would carry a hefty price tag.
Brighton loanee Jan Mlakar has failed to make an impact and QPR risk being left with one recognised striker, Aramide Oteh (currently on loan at Bradford), for next season if they cannot keep Wells or Hugill.
Sealing a permanent deal for Wells would be the clear option but this may involve having to pay a fee to parent club Burnley, given his contract runs until the end of the year.
Bringing in a young and hungry striker to support Wells and Hugill would be another option, with the R's recently linked with Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland.
He has been on fire in Scotland this season and would provide good competition while also guaranteeing Rangers have another striking option in place for next season.
There are plenty of talented forwards in the lower leagues of England that would be capable of making the step up if given the chance, with the likes of Mo Eisa at Peterbrough United and Colby Bishop at Accrington Stanley springing to mind.
But again, these players would command transfer fees, something Warburton has suggested is unlikely to happen.
While not a striker, QPR have also been linked with a loan move for Leeds winger Jack Clarke in recent days, a position they already have plenty of options in with Ilias Chair, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Marc Pugh and Ebere Eze.
Though should Eze leave, a move for Clarke would make more sense, particularly if he goes to Spurs.
The position has proved a problem for Warburton's side all season.
Liam Kelly was brought in during the summer to provide competition for Joe Lumley and has coped well so far but suffered a muscle injury which kept him out for a couple of months.
Lumley has struggled this season, failing to replicate his form from last season and his mistakes have cost Rangers a lot of points.
Consistency in goal would have helped QPR a lot this campaign and would likely have seen them sitting in a higher league position at this point.
But Warburton has shown enormous faith in Lumley and with Kelly now back fit and looking to find his best form, there's a very good chance he will opt not to sign a goalkeeper.
QPR also have Seny Dieng out on loan at Doncaster, who has performed well this season, while highly-rated Dillon Barnes is also playing for QPR's U21s.
The club certainly have options in this position but an experienced shot-stopper coming in and providing some stability and consistency could help Rangers concede less goals.
One player R's fans would be happy to see back would be Alex Smithies, who is currently sitting on the bench at Cardiff City.
Who would you like to see QPR sign in the January transfer window? Have your say in the comments.