STEVEN Caulker has revealed the atmosphere within the QPR dressing room reassured him that staying with the club was the right move for him.
Over the course of the summer transfer window, there had been speculation the defender would leave the club, on loan or permanently.
With the window now closed, Caulker has told www.qpr.co.uk that he feels the environment at the club will give him the platform he needs to produce his best football.
The 24 year-old explained: “It was important for me to play football this season – whether that was in the Championship or the Premier League didn’t make a difference to me, it was all about playing and enjoying my football again.”
Caulker signed for the R’s in 2014, before spending last season on loan at Southampton and Liverpool following the R’s relegation from the top flight.
Since returning to Harlington, he has been impressed by what he has walked into.
“I really enjoyed pre-season here,” he added. “It has been great working under the gaffer. There have been big changes since I was here two years ago, there are now a lot of young, fresh faces around and the players are hungry.
“It has been a great environment to work in and that has definitely had an impact on me. The atmosphere here reassured me that this is the place for me. This is where I feel most comfortable and feel I can produce my best performances.”
Caulker found first-team chances at St Mary’s and Anfield limited, making only 12 appearances, five coming from the bench. Having been a regular starter throughout his career, he admits it was a difficult situation, but an experience he benefitted from and one he feels stronger for.
“Last year was difficult,” he said. “It wasn’t as enjoyable as I would have liked.
“I certainly don’t knock it because I learned a lot from it, but being back here and being involved in the wins against Leeds and Cardiff was great, you just can’t compare that feeling of playing.
“I am here, hopefully in the team – there is such great competition that you know you have to be at the top of your game – and there’s a chance for me to enjoy my football again.”
The R’s are fifth in the table after five games, and Caulker says the target for the squad has to be maintaining that level.
“Everyone is really hungry in that changing room,” he said. “We all want to get better.
“The manager is on top of us every day, demanding the best from us. I believe there is no reason why we shouldn’t be targeting a promotion push. That’s what we would love to do, and I am sure that’s what the fans want to see.
“If we all work hard, you never know what could happen.”
Caulker is hoping to be fit for next weekend’s game against Blackburn, having missed our 1-0 win at Wigan with a groin injury.
“I have been out for the last two weeks but I will be back to training next week, and hopefully raring to go for Blackburn” he said.