QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is looking forward to this weekend’s season opener against Leeds United at Loftus Road – ahead of what pundits, players and managers up and down the country perceive to be the toughest Championship campaign in living memory.
Rangers open their Sky Bet Championship season with a home clash against Garry Monk’s men in front of the live Sky Sports cameras at midday on Sunday, and the R’s gaffer is relishing the visit of his former club.
“We are looking forward to it,” he told www.qpr.co.uk.
“We've worked hard, there's still a little bit to do, but we’ve had a positive pre-season and we will be ready for this weekend.
“I am happy with the squad I've got. I am extremely happy with this group of players. We are together as a squad and that is going to be our strength.”
He added: “It's a big game to start.
“Leeds are a big club, but there are many big clubs in this division now.
“They are a strong side, but the Championship is so strong in general this season.
“You're seeing established names coming down from the Premier League to the Championship and that shows the magnitude of the division.
“There's been a lot of big signings already in this window, so it's becoming harder and harder, but we want to improve, we want to be competitive and we want to give our fans a positive season.”
Summer signings Joel Lynch, Jake Bidwell and Jordan Cousins are all likely to feature against Leeds this weekend, but Ariel Borysiuk misses out with an ankle injury sustained during pre-season.
However, the Polish midfielder is well on the road to recovery, as Hasselbaink explained: “Ariel is a couple of weeks away still – two-and-a-half to three weeks maybe.
“The boot is off and he is due to be back running on Monday, so he’s making steady progress.
“Jack (Robinson) is out with shin splints, and Jamie Mackie is still in plaster following his ankle surgery.”
Ahead of the opening weekend, Hasselbaink admitted he is still keen to add to his squad with ‘attacking players,’ but insists Rangers will only bring in players who fit in with the club’s philosophy and structure.
“We've got a list of players for the positions we want to strengthen,” he said.
“I'm not jealous of what other clubs are doing because we have our own structure and philosophy and we’re not going to steer away from that.
“We won't look back. We look forward.
“I want to make QPR a force, working with the squad I've got at present and hopefully adding players that can strengthen us, but are coming here for the right reasons. To play for the badge, for the shirt, for QPR.”
He added: “Leicester's story last year gives everyone hope ahead of a new season.
“It shows that it can be done, in a different way.
“That is the beauty of football and that is why it's the fantastic sport that it is.”