ATTENTION turns back to the league this Saturday as Rangers welcome Birmingham City to Loftus Road for our Sky Bet Championship fixture.
The Blues find themselves in the Play-Off positions during this early stage of the season but are only five points ahead of the Hoops, despite the fact that we have failed to win any of our last three fixtures.
Managed by their former player Gary Rowett - the midlands club have mainly found life difficult in the Championship following their relegation in 2011. They were defeated in the Play-Off semi-final by Blackpool in 2012 but since then they have mainly had mid-table finishes and only narrowly avoided relegation in 2014.
They began this season with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Cardiff, which was followed by a shock cup defeat to Oxford. But things have picked up in recent weeks with victories over Norwich, Fulham and the much fancied Sheffield Wednesday thanks to an injury time goal from Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Rowett has been steadily improving things since taking charge of Birmingham back in 2014. They are now seen as a defensively strong team highlighted by the fact that only Brentford have conceded less goals than them in the league this season.
They brought seven players in during the last summer transfer window including Ryan Shotton from Derby County and Che Adams from Sheffield United.
QPR: James Perch is still missing with a knee problem whilst Jamie Mackie (ankle) and Ben Gladwin (ankle) are also still sidelined.
Birmingham: Clayton Donaldson is a doubt with an Achilles problem but Jack Storer and Rhoys Wiggins are set to be available. Robert Tesche and Tomasz Kuszczak are also unlikely to feature again.
Predicted line up: (4-2-3-1) Legzdins, Spector, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds, Davis, Gleesonat, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma, Donaldson, Adams
Key Player: Clayton Donaldson – The former Brentford man has pace and power and has topped the club’s leading goal scorer charts in the last two seasons.
PRE MATCH TALK
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: "There were many positives on Wednesday and I am confident we can build on those and get back to winning ways in front of our supporters, who were once again excellent against Sunderland.
“We are not panicking, we are not worrying. We are all together as a squad and as a group of men. We are all working hard to get to where we want to be. We are still improving and we will be competitive, I’ve no doubt about that.”
Gary Rowett: “It’s very difficult to judge from the outside. It would be remiss for me to suggest I know the inner workings. I still think they are in a little bit of transition, I am sure they will get there. They started the season very well, then the last three games they have not done so well. We will be facing a team fighting for their lives.”
QPR win: 6/4
QPR first goal scorer: Tjaronn Chery 5/1
Birmingham first goal scorer: Lukas Jutkiewicz 13/2
LAST TIME OUT
2-0 Championship Saturday 27th February 2016 Loftus Road
QPR scorers: Chery, Hoilett
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 18
Birmingham wins: 22
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistant Referees: Adrian Holmes and Matthew Wilkes
Fourth official: Charles Breakspear
SATURDAY’S OTHER LEAGUE FIXTURES
3pm unless stated
Brighton v Barnsley
Derby v Blackburn
Fulham v Bristol City
Leeds v Ipswich
Norwich v Burton
QPR v Birmingham
Reading v Huddersfield
Rotherham v Cardiff
Sheff Wed v Nottm Forest
Wolves v Brentford
Aston Villa v Newcastle (17:30)