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Senior players so important to us

AS WE prepare for this weekend’s trip to Millwall, Mark Warburton has praised the impact of the senior players in his squad for the standards they have set this season.

Rangers go into Saturday’s game at the Den on the back of three straight league wins and Warburton says the attitude of the experienced players in his group has been pivotal – whether they have been on the pitch or not.

“I can’t talk highly enough of the role the senior players have played here so far,” Warburton told www.qpr.co.uk.

“Angel (Rangel) was injured at the weekend but seeing his reaction; Geoff Cameron who got injured after doing so well for us has been outstanding;

Marc Pugh has come in and played, not played, he’s been outstanding; Lee Wallace hasn’t played a game for us yet but plays such a big role for us; Grant Hall, Toni Leistner, these guys all have a massive role to play and their attitude has been first-class.

“The standards they set in training, their match preparation, how they look after themselves, it all filters down to the younger players and I hope very much they learn from them.”

The R’s boss believes the experience of those players will be key in our first London derby of the season against a Millwall side who have picked up seven points from three home games this term.

“The role of the senior players is very key,” he said. “They have been there before and done it.

“They have to talk to the players as a squad, that message feeding down is very important. They have to understand what is involved and what it means to the fans.

“There a number of London derbies. They have got to enjoy them and enjoy the experience. You enjoy that experience by winning. What do we have to do to win? The clearer that message is, the better we will be.”

While much is made of the physical nature of Millwall’s style, Warburton says Neil Harris’s men are worthy of greater respect for the way they play.

“We know how hard they work, how well organised they are and the quality they have within their ranks,” he said.

“We know what we face. I am full of respect for Neil and his staff and the job they have done.

“It is not just about being physical at Millwall, they have got very good footballers as well. We have to respect that and deal with whatever they give us. We have to stand up to it and play our game as well.”

The R’s will be backed by more than 2,000 fans in south London, and it is a level of support which Warburton will never take for granted.

“Their backing home and away has been essential to us,” he added.

“They play a key role. I mentioned it in my programme notes, I mention it to the media and I hope very much that it is never seen as a casual, throw-away statement because it is not – the role the fans can play for us this season is vitally important.”

Warburton says his squad is in “good shape” ahead of the game, explaining: “Lee Wallace is almost there, he is pushing hard.

“Bright Osayi-Samuel and Olamide Shodipo are back in training. Angel had a small injury but it’s about players working hard and the squad is fit and well.

“Charlie Owens has had an operation on his knee and he starts the road to recovery now. He was in a really good position and earned his place in the team against Portsmouth and on the bench against Sheffield Wednesday, it was fully deserved. We look forward to welcoming him back in the weeks ahead.

“Overall, the squad is in good shape right now.”

The role of the senior players is very key.

Mark Warburton