LUKE Freeman says the QPR players had to match the physicality of Northampton Town in order to progress into the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The R’s overcame their League One opposition courtesy of Yeni Ngbakoto’s first-half strike, and Freeman said afterwards it was a case of ‘sticking to the script’ in order to emerge victorious.
“We knew it would be tough but it was all about getting our name in the hat for the next round,” said the 25 year-old playmaker.
“After the game on Saturday against a footballing side like Reading, this one was a lot harder physically.
“No disrespect to Northampton, but this was a very different type of game and it was all about approaching it in the right way and doing what we needed to do. I felt we done that.
“The first thing you have to do in situations like that is make sure you match them. You have to earn the right to play.”
The Cobblers were reduced to ten men on 53 minutes when Leon Barnett received a second yellow card following a body-check on Idrissa Sylla, and QPR successfully saw the game out, despite the visitors proving difficult opposition.
“Sometimes the extra man can make the game harder in a strange way, it depends on how your opponents react to it,” Freeman added.
“We just needed to make sure we stuck to the script and did what we needed to do to get over the line.
“We won the game, and we’re in the hat for the next round and that’s what it was all about for us.”
Despite making nine changes from the team that faced the Royals at the weekend – only Freeman and Nedum Onuoha started both fixtures – Ian Holloway stuck with a 3-5-2 set-up, and Freeman is relishing his role in the system.
“I am really enjoying playing in the central zone,” he said, following another impressive display in the blue and white hoops.
“I like to get on the ball as much as I can, and this enables me to do that, so I’m very grateful that I am playing in that position at the moment.
“The players that came in against Northampton shows you the strength of the squad, and that’s what we’re going to need in what is a long season.
“You need strength in depth and when you look at the quality of those players that came in, it shows we’ve got that.
“We have got people who can come in and do just as good a job as the ones they’re replacing, so it keeps us all on our toes.”
The focus for the players quickly switches back to league action, with Rangers heading to Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.
After back-to-back play-off finishes, the Owls will be looking to at least repeat that feat this term and will be eager to get their campaign going after an opening day defeat at Preston.
“We’ll be getting our recovery right between now and Saturday, we’ll do our homework and do what we need to do to get a result up there,” Freeman said.
“The excitement levels are going up all the time, it’s what we have been waiting throughout the pre-season for.
“Getting the season off to the start we have is great – maybe that hill in Portugal is helping us all out!”
We won the game, and we’re in the hat for the next round and that’s what it was all about for us.