MARK Warburton expects Cardiff City to provide his QPR squad with another ‘formidable test’ when they visit Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on New Year’s Day (3pm kick-off).
The Bluebirds have only tasted defeat once in nine matches since the appointment of Neil Harris as manager in November.
And Warburton, whose side will be determined to bounce back from Sunday’s unfortunate loss against Hull City, knows what kind of challenge Cardiff will pose.
“Neil has inherited a very good squad of players, a number of which have Premier League experience,” he told www.qpr.co.uk. “I know Neil very well and have a lot of respect for him.
“I know how he wants his teams to play and he is possibly doing that with better quality players now. They will undoubtedly present us with another formidable test.
“They have a physicality about the squad and they do what they do very well. They have got good players and we have got to be ready for them.
“There is a hurt and an anger after the Hull game, so hopefully we can channel that into the Cardiff match.”
Warburton should have Luke Amos and Ilias Chair available for selection against Cardiff. The manager explained that he substituted the pair on Sunday as they were at risk of fatigue.
He said: “I understand the question [of why were those two substituted], of course.
“At this stage of the season, players like Luke Amos have played a number of games over the last two or three weeks. I think Luke has been outstanding for us and when players like Luke are under fatigue then they are more susceptible and liable to injury and we have seen that already this season.
“We lost Luke, we lost Geoff [Cameron] and we lost Yoann [Barbet] to such injuries and we have to be careful. When we take a player like that off, it is with the next game in mind and making sure that he will be available for games coming up. If we lose players for a period of time, it is a real blow for us.
“Ilias Chair has been patient and to throw him in for 90 minutes and expect him to be fit again is a potential problem for us, so it is about taking care of the players.
“It isn’t about making substitutions just to upset fans, it’s about looking after players and the team to make sure they are available for forthcoming games. These are young guys who are facing the demands and challenges of the Championship and we need to look after them.”
The Cardiff game comes on the same day as the opening of the January transfer window. Warburton says he – and the club – will be prudent throughout the month.
He explained: “I said before and I hope I’m not seen as lacking ambition or desire… we want to make sure the squad is constantly improved and that quality is added but the best thing, for me, is to be honest with our supporters.
“The January window is one where the £500,000 player becomes £850,000, the £1million player becomes £2million and so on because teams know that other clubs are likely to either be facing relegation or fighting for promotion.
“If the value is available then we can move but we are not going to be going out and spending £2, 3, 4, 5million pounds on players. That isn’t going to happen.
“The best thing is to be honest and say if we can use the loan market wisely then we will. If we can find the value then we will. The best thing is to manage expectations.
“The owners, Lee [Hoos] and his staff are doing a great job in getting the club back onto a firm financial foundation and we have to continue that work.
“If we can do, then maybe that means we’ll have some more gunpowder to use come the summertime. We have to do the right thing at the right time.”
One man who is set to be added to the QPR squad on New Year’s Day is Geoff Cameron, who should return following the birth of his son last week.
Warburton said: “Geoff is back and available. Yoann is working hard with the medical team and his injury is just part and parcel of football.
“There was an U23s friendly yesterday [on Monday] where Liam Kelly played part of the game. He’s trying to get his match sharpness back, so we are in a good place apart from Yoann.”
The manager also had the following message for the club’s supporters.
He said: “The backing is never taken for granted. It’s always appreciated. We understand the cost; the timing issues of following your team. What I want our fans to do is to hopefully see what the players are trying to do. Looking at the game against Hull, I think they would have enjoyed periods of it and I hope we can give them lots to shout about in the new year.”