TOP FLIGHT survival is temporarily put to one side as QPR kick-off their FA Cup campaign against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.
Rangers host the Baggies in one of four all Premier League third round ties buoyed by Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory at arch rivals Chelsea.
Shaun Wright-Phillips’ 78th minute strike proved decisive as Rangers made a dream start to 2013 with one of the shock results of the season.
Victory was made all the more important after successive home defeats over the festive period had left the R’s eight points adrift of safety.
Harry Redknapp’s side have the chance to secure back-to-back victories for the first time in 2012/13 as Rangers aim to improve upon their dismal record in this competition in recent years.
The R’s will be desperate to avoid a third round exit for an eighth time in nine years, bowing out to top flight opposition in each of the last two seasons.
Saturday’s visitors were one of the sides to profit from the Hoops’ slump over Christmas as West Brom return to Loftus Road for the second time in quick succession.
Chris Brunt’s stunning 30-yard opener and Rob Green’s own goal ensured victory for Steve Clarke’s side, who held out despite Djibril Cisse’s reply to continue their impressive league campaign.
Albion head into the break three points off a European spot in seventh despite surrendering maximum points to Fulham at The Hawthorns on New Year’s Day.
The hosts look set to be without Junior Hoilett after the Canadian lasted just 15 minutes at Stamford Bridge before limping off with injury.
Ji-Sung Park made a welcome return off the bench in midweek and could earn a recall along with DJ Campbell after the striker returned this week from his loan spell at Ipswich Town.
The Baggies are also likely to ring the changes as manager Clarke hopes to have several players returning from the treatment table.
Jonas Olsson (groin), Steven Reid (shin), Claudio Yacob (hamstring) and Goran Popov (hamstring) are all hoping to be declared fit for Saturday.
Youssouf Mulumbu returned from a hamstring injury against the Cottagers and could earn a starting place in his last outing for the Baggies before jetting off to the African Cup of Nations.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION – Likely line-up (4-4-2): Foster; Jones, Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley; Morrison, Dorrans, Brunt, Gera; Long, Odemwingie.
Star Man … James MORRISON
Operating from either flank, James Morrison has played a major role in establishing West Brom amongst the upper echelons of the Premier League this season.
The Scottish international is often the Baggies main source of creativity, providing ammunition for Albion’s frontmen who have thrived off his service.
Albion’s current longest serving player, Morrison has become renowned as something of an unsung hero for his work-rate in midfield but his contribution has not gone unnoticed this term.
Morrison broke the deadlock when these sides met at the Hawthorns in October, adding to his tally with important strikes on the road against Tottenham and Wigan.
The Pre-Match Talk
R’s midfielder, Shaun Derry:
“Saturday is really important for us.
“After Wednesday night’s result you’re looking to get your league form back on track first and foremost and that’s our main concern.
“But it’s important that we go into Saturday’s game and put back-to-back positive performances, and hopefully results, together.
“We haven’t done that this year.
Albion boss, Steve Clarke:
“I said when I came here I would try and do well in the cup competitions and I see nothing to change that.
“I might have to rest one or two players just because that’s the stage of the season we’re at.
“Fingers crossed we’ll get one or two of the injured players back.
“My aim is to try and have a good cup run and consolidate and build on the first half of the season.”
Match Odds with Bet Victor
QPR win: 8/5
West Bromwich Albion win: 9/5
QPR 1, West Bromwich Albion 2 – Barclays Premier League – Wednesday 26th December 2012
Scorers: QPR – Cisse; West Bromwich Albion – Brunt, Green (og)
Referee: M Clattenburg
Assistants: S Bennett & D England
Fourth Official: D Phillips
Whether you’re at Loftus Road or not this weekend, Rangers fans across the globe can enjoy a whole of host of exclusive content – both before and after Saturday’s clash with the Baggies – on QPR Player.
Coverage will include our Matchday Radio Show, live commentary, extended highlights, the manager’s post-match press conference and much, much more.
To start the New Year, we’re offering R’s fans worldwide the chance to subscribe to QPR Player
for just £18.99 in our January Sale
The FA Cup – Weekend fixtures
Kick-offs 3pm unless stated
Saturday 5th January
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United (12.30pm)
Aldershot Town v Rotherham United
Aston Villa v Ipswich Town
Barnsley v Burnley
Blackburn Rovers v Bristol City
Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland
Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town
Crawley Town v Reading
Crystal Palace v Stoke City
Derby County v Tranmere Rovers
Fulham v Blackpool
Hull City v Leyton Orient
Leeds United v Birmingham City
Leicester City v Burton Albion
Luton Town v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Macclesfield Town v Cardiff City
Manchester City v Watford
Middlesbrough v Hastings United
Millwall v Preston North End
Nottingham Forest v Oldham Athletic
Oxford United v Sheffield United
Peterborough United v Norwich City
QPR v West Bromwich Albion
Sheffield Wednesday v Milton Keynes Dons
Southampton v Chelsea
Southend United v Brentford
Tottenham Hotspur v Coventry City
Wigan Athletic v Bournemouth
West Ham United v Manchester United (5.15pm)
Sunday 6th January
Swansea City v Arsenal (1.30pm)
Mansfield Town v Liverpool (4pm)
Monday 7th January
Cheltenham Town v Everton (7.45pm)
Next QPR Fixture
Tottenham Hotspur (H) – Barclays Premier League – Monday 14th January, kick-off 8pm