MARC BIRCHAM believes Adel Taarabt can still play a pivotal part in QPR’s survival bid after finding the net at West Ham United on Tuesday.
Taarabt starred for a QPR XI which slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Upton Park, firing the R's consolation in style with a sublime free-kick from 25 yards.
The Moroccan ace impressed off the bench at Aston Villa on Saturday and Bircham knows Rangers' number 10 has plenty to offer as the season nears its nail-biting climax.
“It was a great goal from Adel," Bircham told www.qpr.co.uk. “You’ll always get that from him, he’s always there wanting the ball.
“Sometimes he tries a lot of hard balls which might not always come off but then he’ll have that one bit of magic that does work.
“You see when he came on Saturday he played so well for the first team so hopefully we’ll start seeing the best of him again.”
Harry Redknapp was also an interested onlooker at the Boleyn Ground, as a host of experienced first-team players featured as Rangers retain match fitness during the two-week international break.
The R's boss joined Bircham in the dressing room at half-time and his influence seemed to have the desired effect on the visitors, who reduced the deficit courtesy of Taarabt's strike within three minutes of the restart.
“The tempo was probably not where we wanted in the first half but it was in the second half,” Bircham said.
“Harry had a word at half-time after I spoke and just let the lads know that they’re not doing it as a punishment, it’s there for their fitness and to get 90 minutes under their belt while we’re coming into the run-in.”
Rangers pinned their hosts back for periods but fell short in the final third as both Junior Hoilett and Jay Bothroyd came close late on.
While the R’s rued their luck in front of goal, Bircham's XI were undone by Hammers youngster Blair Turgott who stole the limelight with a hat-trick.
“It was three very good goals from West Ham,” he admitted.
“It probably wasn’t a true reflection of the game, we had quite a few chances and were very wasteful.
“When you’re playing a good opposition you get punished for not taking your chances and that’s what happened to us today.”
Despite defeat, Bircham insists the afternoon was a useful exercise for the senior professionals while he was equally pleased with the impact of those from his Elite Development Squad.
The Under-21s return to league action on Monday, looking to extend their four-game unbeaten league run when they travel to local rivals Brentford.
“It was mainly for the older players to get 90 minutes under their belt but the Under-21s that played did well,” he added.
“Mo [Shariff] has come on at left-back and done well, Max [Ehmer] looked very solid and composed alongside Nedum [Onouha].
“It’s good for them but for these games there’s no pressure at all, that’s what the league is for."