MARC BIRCHAM took plenty of encouragement from the performance of his experimental Under-21s side after Tuesday’s friendly with Crystal Palace.
Rangers held the Eagles to a goalless draw with a polished rearguard display, proving more than a match for their Barclays Premier League opponents.
Bircham was particularly pleased by the impact of several second-half substitutes, as the R’s boss blooded a host of youngsters from the Under-18 setup as they aim to assert themselves in his plans for the latter half of the campaign.
“I thought we played really well,” Bircham told www.qpr.co.uk. “We created a lot of chances and got in dangerous areas.
“It was more important for the second year youth team scholars coming up, integrating them into the squad and having a look at them for next year. They all did well when they came on.
“Palace are always good opposition, they have some good players.
“I was very happy with the way we performed, we passed the ball really well and the movement was excellent.”
The cold snap has hampered the R's best-laid plans in recent days as snow and frozen pitches have reaped havoc with the football programme across the country.
Safe from the elements under the roof at the London Soccer Dome, Bircham admits Tuesday’s surroundings provided the perfect backdrop for some much-needed playing time.
“I think we’ve got to get down the petrol station and get the de-icers out!,” the R's boss joked.
“In all seriousness, whatever the weather throws up we’ve now got a couple of things planned and hopefully if the weather thaws we can get back on the grass.
“Being able to play here was definitely a useful exercise.
“It’s forward thinking really. A little bit of pre-planning has worked out nicely.”
Bircham handed R’s midfielder Frankie Sutherland a start after his loan debut for Portsmouth was put on hold as their weekend trip to Scunthorpe was postponed.
Sutherland was joined by Bruno Andrade – who has recently penned an extension to his loan at Wycombe Wanderers – as both returned for a worthwhile run-out back in Hoops colours.
“I spoke about it to the coaches at Wycombe and Portsmouth,” Bircham said. “The lads haven’t been able to train because of the weather so I think they were quite grateful to come down here and get 45 minutes under their belts.”
Sutherland follows the likes of Michael Harriman and Tom Hitchcock out on loan in the Football League, much to the delight of Bircham and his backroom team.
“That’s always been our plan,” Bircham said. “We wanted to get to Christmas, see how the league is, which has been very good for us, and then look to get some of our players out on loan.
“Michael Harriman was excellent for Wycombe on Saturday. I also spoke to [Bristol Rovers manager] John Ward about Tom Hitchcock, who was very complimentary of his performance.
“That’s what it’s all about, to get them sampling league football, playing in front of crowds and playing for three points.
“Hopefully they come back better for it and it gives them a platform us to build them on from there.”