JAMIE Mackie was a man of mixed emotions at the Harlington training ground on Monday.
Few players hate losing as much as the former Reading and Nottingham Forest man, but he could be forgiven for having a bit of a spring in his step after ending an eight-month wait for competitive football with a second-half appearance during our 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend.
The 31 year-old has endured an injury-hampered spell at the club since he returned to his spiritual home 18 months ago.
Hamstring trouble limited Mackie to 16 appearances last season, while ankle ligament damage sustained in the summer prevented him from featuring this season, until yesterday’s return.
“As I’ve said a number of times, it has been a nightmare period for me, but it’s been down to nothing other than being unlucky,” Mackie told www.qpr.co.uk.
“I have been working really hard with the great staff we’ve got here behind the scenes, and to get out there and play felt great.
“Playing football is what has been missing from my life.”
Mackie entered the fray at Loftus Road shortly after Jonathan Kodjia had given the visitors the lead.
“I tried to come on and affect the game but at the minute we’re a bit low on confidence,” he said. “It is the worst feeling in the world when we lose but I’ve told the boys that if we win a game that nobody expects us to, that’s the sort of result that can turn things.
“We’ve just got to stay positive and go into games with a sense of belief.
“Personally, I am just delighted to be back and am determined to make a big difference for us in the second half of the season.”
During Mackie’s 12-minute appearance, he was involved in arguably QPR’s two best chances of the game.
In the 88th minute, fellow-sub Olamide Shodipo found Mackie in the box, but as he turned to shoot he lost his footing and could only scuff his shot wide.
And in injury time, Mackie got in behind the Villa defence before colliding heavily with the out-rushing goalkeeper, Mark Bunn.
It was the sort of challenge Mackie relished – putting his body on the line, knowing he would probably get clattered for his troubles.
But just as Mackie looked to get a touch on the ball to steer it beyond Bunn, the R’s forward was pushed by Villa defender Nathan Baker.
While the R’s fans roared for a spot-kick, their protests were dismissed by referee Geoff Eltringham.
“There was a push there, but it wasn’t given,” Mackie said. “When you are winning games you seem to get decisions like that, so you can’t complain when those decisions aren’t going your way. It’s just how it is. You can’t feel sorry for yourselves.”
Despite his lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury, Mackie said it never crossed his mind not to put himself in harm’s way as he sought a late leveller for QPR.
He explained: “My thinking is more, ‘There’s an opportunity to score here.’ I’ve been out for so long, I just want to get a goal.”
As Mackie looks towards the second half of the season, he views Rangers’ current plight as something he can get his teeth stuck into.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m excited about it – I’m ready for the battle and ready for the challenge. All I care about is playing football and I want to have an impact for this club.”
Next up for QPR is the trip to second-placed Brighton in eight days’ time.
“It’s a very tough game,” Mackie acknowledged. “They are an extremely well organised team with a very good manager and very good players. They are top players, especially in this division.
“But I have been involved in games like this before where people don’t expect you to get anything – that’s fine! Let’s galvanise, let’s come together and let’s see what we can do.
“In the Championship, anyone can beat anyone. It’s just how this league is. We all know that, so we need to go there with belief, get a result, and then keep getting results right through until the end of the season.”