Pride Park trip for Holloway's QPR
Queens Park Rangers take on Derby County live on Sky Sports on Friday night at Pride Park for what is the first game back after the international break.
Rangers head into this fixture as one of the Championship's in form sides having won three of the last four games. In contrast Derby are going through a real lean spell winning just one of their last ten league games.
Earlier this month the Rams made the decision to relieve Steve McClaren of his duties at the club and appointed the highly rated Gary Rowett. The former Birmingham manager’s first game in charge was a draw against bitter rivals Nottingham Forest but he has now had two weeks to work with most of his squad.
When you look at the quality of players that Derby possess it would not be unfair to suggest that they have slightly underachieved this season. They began the year in 7th place just one point off the play-offs but their poor run of form has now seen them drop to 10th and significantly nine points adrift of the play-offs. Rowett is adamant that the midlands club can still achieve their target of making the top six but will realistically know they will probably have to win their remaining eight games to make this possible.
Derby will look back to their early season run for some inspiration. In the reverse fixture between the two sides a late Thomas Ince volley gave the Rams all three points in what was their seventh league win in a row. In truth the game at Loftus Road wasn’t a classic and Rangers arguably deserved a share of the spoils but it shows the talent that they have in their armoury if they can get firing.
QPR are currently enjoying their best spell of the season with the two week break coming at the worst time for Holloway’s side after recording their biggest victory of the campaign against Rotherham.
However Rangers have not won at Pride Park since 2009 and have struggled in games directly after the international break this term.
QPR: Massimo Luongo is unlikely to be involved after arriving back from international duty with Australia this morning whilst Pawel Wszolek has been ill.
Derby County: Darren Bent is available following an illness whilst Bradley Johnson is available despite picking up an injury against Forest last time out. The Rams will be without George Thorne, Craig Forsyth, Nick Blackman and Jason Shackell, who all remain long-term absentees.
Predicted line up: Carson, Baird, Keogh, Pearce, Olsson, Bryson, Johnson, Russell, Ince, Vydra, Nugent
Key Player: Tom Ince – the skilful wide player has got quick feet and is a tricky customer when running with the ball.
PRE MATCH TALK
Ian Holloway: “The boys have had a nice break. We gave them four days off to spend with their families and they’ve come back refreshed. The boys understand what I want from them. I’m craving consistency – and we’re showing that at the moment. We need to keep that ticking over now, because we’ve got a crazy period coming up."
Gary Rowett: “Sometimes it’s going to go great, sometimes it’s not going to go so well but I think that’s when we need us all to be together to maintain that positivity. Results are going to do that, energy and effort are going to do that - that’s the way we show the fans what we’re about. There’s a perception that this group of players don’t have enough hunger to be successful but that’s certainly not something I’ve seen in training in the past two weeks.”
QPR win: 14/5
QPR first goal scorer: Matt Smith 7/1
Derby first goal scorer: Darren Bent 9/2
LAST TIME OUT
QPR 0 - 1 Derby - Championship, Wednesday 14th December 2016
Derby goal-scorer: Thomas Ince
HEAD TO HEAD
(In all competitions)
QPR wins: 15
Derby wins: 19
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Assistant Referees: James Mainwaring and Billy Smallwood
Fourth official: Christopher Kavanagh
Friday dry and bright with some sunshine, but chance of rain or showers later. 7% chance of rain.
SATURDAY'S OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Kick-offs 3pm unless otherwise stated
Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday (12:30pm)
Aston Villa v Norwich City
Brentford v Bristol City
Brighton v Blackburn Rovers
Huddersfield Town v Burton Albion
Ipswich Town v Birmingham City
Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic
Preston North End v Nottingham Forest
Rotherham United v Fulham
Wolves v Cardiff City
Reading v Leeds United (5:30pm)