New Year starts at Loftus Road

Last updated : 01 January 2006 By Tony Scholes
Lee Cook
The festive season started well for us with that Boxing Day win against Stoke whilst QPR didn’t get off to the best of starts with a 1-0 defeat at Brighton. Our respective fortunes have very much changed since with us losing twice and them picking up two wins to take them within three points of us in the table.

QPR finished in the top half of the league last season, their first after promotion, but they have found life in the Championship just a little bit more difficult this time round and for the last couple of months have been very much in the bottom half of the league.

Manager Ian Holloway made a number of changes to his squad during the close season, bringing in a total of five new players. Goalkeeper Simon Royce was the first to sign, coming in from Charlton and he’s had a dramatic last few weeks. Firstly he was attacked at the end of their game at Stoke, trapped in the net by some lunatic calling himself a Stoke fan, and then just a couple of games later was sent off in their home defeat against Coventry.

He’s been the regular goalkeeper all season and the two players who followed him in to Loftus Road, Ian Evatt and Stefan Moore from Chesterfield and Aston Villa respectively, have also figured heavily in the first team. The next signings were Danish defender Marc Nygaard from Brescia and Tom Doherty who arrived from Bristol City, and that completed the pre-season signings.

Since the start of this season Holloway has added three more to the squad. Richard Langley returned to the club after two years at Cardiff whilst West Ham’s Steve Lomas was signed after strong rumours that he was about to join Burnley. To add to those two West Brom’s Lloyd Dyer has joined on loan.
The season has been interrupted with constant speculation about manager Holloway. He’s been in charge since replacing Gerry Francis almost five years ago and the latest to be linked with taking over is Jim Smith who has had a previous spell as manager between 1985 and 1988.

The club have denied it and in his own inimitable style Holloway said on news of the latest rumour, “I’m sick and tired of it, it seems every man, dingo and his dog is linked with my job. I’ve got it and you just come and take it from me if you can.”

Click HERE to see all QPR’s results this season.

Team News

It’s difficult to work out just what sort of side Holloway will turn out, he’s been changing them round a bit during this hectic schedule and even had the luxury of choosing two from four forwards and that’s without Kevin Gallen who is ruled out with injury.

One other player expected to miss out is Marc Bircham who limped out of the game at Crewe with a hamstring injury whilst Tom Doherty is out with a long standing injury. Steve Lomas is close to fitness having been out since October but the likelihood is he will not be risked.

The most likely line up is: Simon Royce, Matthew Rose, Georges Santos, Danny Shittu, Marcus Bignot, Lee Cook, Martin Rowlands, Gareth Ainsworth, Richard Langley, Paul Furlong, Stefan Moore. Subs from: Mauro Milanese, Ian Evatt, Scott Donnelly, Marc Nygaard, Shabazz Baidoo, Marcus Bean, Lloyd Dyer.

Click HERE to see the full QPR squad.

It is a case of who is available for the Clarets and it looks as though John McGreal and John Spicer will both be ruled out. Spice was injured in the defeat at Norwich whilst Johnny Mac was substituted early in the game on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday.

Neither are expected to be involved and that will mean another start for Wayne Thomas who is very much back in the thick of it following his return to the side. I’m sure there will be other changes and I would think Garreth O’Connor will be back and that will mean his first start since the defeat at Sheffield United at the beginning of December.

Much will depend on how Steve Cotterill decides to play but I would think the most likely to miss out are Graham Branch and Gifton Noel-Williams. I expect Gifton to continue though with Branchy on the bench leaving the side similar to the one that played the second half on Saturday.

It is: Brian Jensen, Michael Duff, Wayne Thomas, Frank Sinclair, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott, Micah Hyde, James O’Connor, Garreth O’Connor, Ade Akinbiyi, Gifton Noel-Williams. Subs from: Lee Grant, Duane Courtney, Chris McCann, Danny Karbassiyoon, Graham Branch, Kyle Lafferty.

Last Time

This was our heaviest defeat of the season, a 3-0 defeat that was made worse with more injuries, including a serious knee injury for Danny Coyne. It left us with hardly a team to turn out just a few days later at Elland Road but we all know what happened that night.

There’s more on this and another past QPR game in our look back article, You might as well go home.

The teams were,

QPR: Chris Day, Marcus Bignot, Frankie Simek, Georges Santos, Matthew Rose (Gino Padula 84), Marc Bircham, Serge Branco (Kevin McLeod 68), Martin Rowlands (Marcus Bean 43), Lee Cook, Kevin Gallen, Paul Furlong. Subs not used: Richard Edghill, Tony Thorpe.

Burnley: Danny Coyne (Brian Jensen 27), Michael Duff, Frank Sinclair, John McGreal, Mo Camara, Lee Roche, Micah Hyde, Tony Grant, Graham Branch (James O’Connor 19), Jean-Louis Valois (Richard Chaplow 69), Robbie Blake. Subs not used: Richard Duffy, Amadou Sanokho.

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Click HERE to see all our results against QPR beginning with an FA Cup win in our record breaking championship season of 1920/21.