MARK Warburton can’t wait for the start of the 2020/21 SkyBet Championship campaign, but knows that this will be a season like no other, with a relentless fixture schedule planned for his Rangers side.
The league campaign kick-offs on Saturday with the visit of Warburton’s former employers Nottingham Forest and the R’s boss knows that we will be fully prepared for what will be a tough challenge to get the campaign underway.
Forest who narrowly missed out on the play-off places last term, like Rangers will be looking to get the new campaign underway with a positive result this weekend.
“This will be a great game at home, they are a very tough opponent with a very deep and talented squad,” he told www.qpr.co.uk. “If you aren’t excited by the start of a new league campaign you shouldn’t be in football, it’s as simple as that.
“We have been training well, we are in good shape and we are looking forward to start with a huge challenge, but it's one we need to rise too.
“Our players have been working so hard to be in this position, we are in the right place, I know what I want to do Saturday. A few of the lads have had a couple of knocks, however everyone is now fit and well.
“George (Thomas) had a slightly more serious knock which saw him miss out the trips to Plymouth and Oxford, but after ten days, he is back, trained well Tuesday and Thursday so he is in my plans.
“Bright (Osayi-Samuel) and Ryan (Manning) are fit and available for selection, I have read some bizarre comments this week about players refusing to play among other things, but that is not the case. Every contract discussion is at a different stage, so what applies to one player doesn’t to another.
“We as a club are very consistent in what we do and how we treat players, but as a I say some of the speculation I have read is ridiculous, it’s the start of the season and it is what it is.
“Lyndon (Dykes) is fine, despite being taken off for Scotland during the week, it was an impact injury on his back, but he’s okay. The Scottish medical team were in close contact with ours and all is well, he is back in training today.
“He deserves enormous credit to start both games for Scotland, he’s been a breath of fresh air to the Scottish squad and he has impacted on our own squad in the same manner, we are just excited to see what he can bring to the Championship.”
Despite kick-off for Saturday’s league opener with Nottingham Forest still a day away, Warburton is confident the starting XI he has in his head will take to the field this weekend.
He said: “I know basically who I want to start the game, I have a rough idea. Obviously, we have players coming back and we need to look at various things, you have to tick so many boxes, but we have some good options to choose from.
“We are a very young squad, but the young players are going to benefit enormously from the experience of being in and around the first team, they will gain a huge amount of knowledge and that will only come to advantage us in the long term.
“The younger lads have been pushing really hard, we have welcomed some more experienced lads back and they are making picking the side very difficult for me, but it’s a good headache to be having.
“However, as I have said, this season will be a long one, as we face a game near enough every three days, so we have to have depth, have to have flexibility in position and luck needs to be on our side regarding injuries and suspensions. If we get those in the right order we will be in a good place.
“We are as happy as we possibly can be with the squad, we have added some good quality with the likes of Rob Dickie at the back, George Thomas, Lyndon up top, securing Luke Amos, as well as Tom Carroll coming in.
“We are in good shape, but we will keep looking to add where we can. We need one or two more to come in, however the window is open until the middle of October which will be a challenge for all the clubs; managers and coaches because we are fully aware that you can lose important players very late in the window and getting replacements is very difficult, but that’s part and parcel of the game now and all we can do is control what we can control and hope we are in a good place come the end of the window.”
Warburton’s former side Nottingham Forest, will be making the trip to W12 this weekend and the R’s boss is confident that the Reds will be competing at the top end of the table this year.
“They are a very talented side, they proved that last season and the additions of the likes of Lyle Taylor and Luke Freeman only adds to a very strong squad, they will be looking towards the top of the table, but so will your sides such as: Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich, the list is endless this year, this season will be very tough.
“Of course, I know a few people from Forest and it will be nice to see a few old faces, but we have to prepare well, analyse well to ensure we are ready for the challenge we face on Saturday.”
"We have been training well, we are in good shape and we are looking forward to getting started."