|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Wednesday, 26th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: QPR Will Be Facing a Totally Different Town Team
Wednesday, 26th Dec 2018 06:00
Boss Paul Lambert says QPR will face a very different Town side at Loftus Road this afternoon from the one they beat 2-0 at Portman Road in late October (Sky Sports red button, iFollow Ipswich KO 3pm).
That game was former boss Paul Hurst’s final home match in charge of the Blues with his departure coming the day after the following Wednesday's 2-0 defeat at Leeds. Lambert was formally appointed manager on the Saturday before taking the reins on the Sunday.
The bottom-of-the-table Blues claimed their first win of the Lambert era at home to Wigan last week and then built on that victory by drawing 1-1 with sixth-placed Sheffield United on Saturday, a result which cut the gap to four points plus goal difference.
Despite Town’s recent upturn, Lambert says claiming a third victory of the season against the 10th-placed West Londoners won’t be an easy matter.
“QPR came here a few weeks ago and turned us over, so we don’t have a divine right that we’re going to go and win just because we’re on a wee bit of a run,” he said.
“We’ll go and do everything we can with a big support but we’ve come in here and we’re six months behind it. We’re trying to play six months catch-up because we’ve just come in with the guys.
“As I’ve said before, one thing’s for sure, we’ll be ready for it. We’ll come out the traps and we’ll do everything we can.
“Steve McClaren's got QPR doing well but they came here and turned Ipswich over pretty easily, our job is to try and do the same over there. A tough, tough game.”
He added: “At the start of the season I was loving my holiday time. It doesn’t matter to me what happened before, I can’t do anything about that, we’re going to go and try and win this one.”
Lambert says he didn’t watch the video of the Portman Road fixture after taking charge having gained enough of an idea of the situation at Town from the 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough in the previous match.
“I didn’t have to watch it,” he said. “I watched the Middlesbrough game here, that was more than enough. As I said before, there was absolute apathy here.
“One thing coming to the stadium now, people get excited and people get their backsides off their seats, which is brilliant.
“The atmosphere [at the Sir Bobby Robson Stand end] is brilliant and I’d pay myself to go and stand in there. In the stadium at the minute it’s great.
“But when I watched the Middlesbrough game, I could understand why people weren’t turning up because there was nothing there.”
He says things have changed significantly since then: “I don’t think anybody could say in the short time we’ve been here that it isn’t a totally different team.
“The same group of lads, you can’t always hide behind the manager, as everybody knows, and they had to look at themselves as well, it wasn’t just the manager’s fault.
“But what they’ve given me in the last six weeks or so has been absolutely brilliant, I can’t ask any more, they’ve been a credit to themselves, let alone anything else.”
Definitely missing for Town are long-term absentees Emyr Huws (knee) and Tom Adeyemi (achilles), while Cole Skuse is expected to be out for around another six weeks with his knee problem, although the midfielder is hoping to be back before that.
On-loan Fulham man Tayo Edun has undergone surgery on his eye problem and remains back with his parent club.
Lambert said ahead of the Sheffield United match that one or two other players were suffering from minor knocks and a few players had been under the weather with a virus, which could impact upon his selection.
The Blues boss confirms he plans to shuffle his pack during the busy spell of Christmas fixtures and one or two changes are likely at Loftus Road.
Dean Gerken will continue in goal with skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington again set to be the centre-halves and Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen the full-backs.
In midfield, Trevoh Chalobah will be in the deeper role with Lambert perhaps looking to make a change in the two ahead of the on-loan Chelsea man, Andre Dozzell and Jon Nolan having started against the Blades.
Dozzell is most likely to drop out with Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop and Grant Ward all vying to come back into the starting XI.
In the front three, Jack Lankester seems set to return on the right for Gwion Edwards with Freddie Sears on the left. Lambert may again start with Ellis Harrison down the centre, although could opt to rest the Welshman and recall Jordan Roberts.
For QPR, who have won their last two following back-to-back defeats after two successive draws, defender Joel Lynch could return to the squad having missed Rangers’ 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday - the club’s first-ever victory at the City Ground - with a dead leg.
Centre-back Alex Baptiste could also be back in contention after injury, while Geoff Cameron (ankle), Angel Rangel (thigh) and Tomer Hemed (groin) are not yet ready to return.
No tickets will be on sale to Blues fans on the gate at Loftus Road this afternoon.
Town have won 30 of the previous encounters between the sides (28 in the league), Rangers 29 (26) and 19 (18) have ended in draws.
The Blues have lost eight of their last 11 league games against Rangers, winning only two, and have been defeated in all of their last five matches at Loftus Road.
At Portman Road in October, first-half goals from Luke Freeman, direct from a corner, and Hemed, from the penalty spot, gave QPR a comfortable 2-0 victory over Town, who were woeful in former boss Hurst’s last home game in charge.
Freeman curled his flag-kick over keeper Dean Gerken on 13 and Hemed netted from the spot in first-half injury time.
Last time at Loftus Road, in September last year, sub Bersant Celina celebrated his 21st birthday with a brilliant late goal but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Blues from falling to a 2-1 defeat to QPR.
Jamie Mackie and Freeman struck either side of the break to give Rangers a two-goal advantage before Celina smashed home his stunning strike to set up a nervy end for the home team, who held on to claim the three points and inflict Town's first away Championship defeat during 2017/18.
QPR’s Australian international midfielder Massimo Luongo joined Town on loan from Spurs in the summer of 2012 and made eight starts and three sub appearances, scoring once, before McCarthy curtailed his spell at Portman Road shortly after taking over.
Loan frontman Nahki Wells spent time on trial at Portman Road as a teenager. He did enough to be asked to stay on for a longer spell but the homesick youngster opted to go back to Bermuda and the Dandy Town Hornets before later making his return to English football with Carlisle, Bradford, Huddersfield and Burnley before his loan switch in August.
Midfielder or striker Ryan Manning, who is currently on loan with Rotherham, trained with the Blues academy when a schoolboy before joining the West London club's youth set-up.
Town’s U18s assistant manager Kieron Dyer was a player with QPR from July 2011 to January 2013.
Today’s referee is Keith Stroud from Hampshire, who has shown 35 yellow cards and no red in 11 games so far this season.
Stroud’s last Town match was the 2-1 defeat to West Brom last month in which he yellow-carded Pennington and three visiting players.
Prior to that he took charge of the 4-0 victory at Reading in April in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
He also refereed the 4-1 defeat at Fulham in January in which he red-carded Spence and booked Chambers, Joe Garner, Callum Connolly, Martyn Waghorn and three Cottagers.
Before that he took control of the 2-2 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday in November last year when he booked Skuse and one Owl. However, he failed to issue a card of either colour for Glenn Loovens’s groin-high horror challenge on David McGoldrick.
He was also the ref for the Blues’ 1-1 draw at Leeds in February of last year in which he booked only Knudsen.
Stroud was the man in the middle of the 3-2 win at Wigan in December 2016, awarding the Blues a contentious penalty, which was converted by Brett Pitman, and booked the striker, Andre Dozzell, Tom Lawrence and three home players.
Before that the veteran official was in charge of the 4-2 victory over Barnsley at Portman Road on the opening day of 2016/17 when he also awarded the Blues a penalty which was converted by McGoldrick. He booked Kevin Bru, Teddy Bishop and three Tykes.
He refereed the 3-2 home victory over the MK Dons in the final home match of 2015/16, in which he booked Tommy Smith and one opposition player and awarded the visitors a spotkick.
Stroud officiated in the 1-1 home draw with Birmingham in September 2015 in which he gave the Blues another penalty, again netted by Pitman, which was bitterly disputed by the visitors when Ainsley Maitland-Niles was felled by Jonathan Spector. He booked Christophe Berra, Jonathan Douglas and two visiting players.
A former Premier League referee and one-time FIFA assistant, Stroud also refereed the 3-2 defeat at Brighton in January 2015, the 1-0 derby defeat to Norwich at Portman Road in August 2014 and Town’s 1-0 home victory over Birmingham in March of the same year.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Pennington, Nsiala, Donacien, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Ward, Lankester, Rowe, Roberts, Sears, Jackson, Harrison.
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