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Warburton: We have done our work

AS Mark Warburton prepares for his first competitive fixture as QPR boss, the new gaffer is happy with the pre-season work that has taken place over the past six weeks.

Waburton’s R’s kick off the Championship game at Stoke City on Saturday and he is excited about the challenge that lies ahead.

“I am looking forward to the start of it,” he said.

“We have done our work in pre-season, new players have come on board and we want the games to come now. I am looking forward to what I think will be an exciting challenge.”

There have been 14 new arrivals and 11 departures since the end of 2018/19, and it was a level of change within the squad that Warburton believes was necessary as he looked to put his stamp on the team.

“It has been a major rebuild but we thought the time was right to do that,” he explained.

“It was right to have some radical surgery. We have added youthfulness and experience so it is a really nice blend, and that’s reflected in the way the boys have trained.

“There is real competition for places and that was the key for me. We had to make sure that all over the park we had real serious competition.”

Rangers’ first test will be to a visit a side who have targeted promotion as their only objective this season, and Warburton admitted: “We know this will be a tough challenge.

“It’s difficult to go to Stoke but show me an easy fixture! That’s the nature of the Championship. It is a magnificent division and a relentless challenge week in, week out.

“We’ve got Stoke, Huddersfield and Bristol City up first – three teams who will all be pushing for promotion. Our job is to finish the season as high as we possibly can in the league.”

Warburton insists his approach throughout the coming weeks and months will be to focus on the next fixture, and he’ll avoid thinking too far ahead when it comes to his team selection.

“You have to go one game at a time,” he said. “I hear coaches talking about resting him for two or three games, bringing him in here, and so on.

“For me, I think it’s about the next game.

“You have to think like that because the demands of the league are so tough and so relentless. If you are not prepared for each and every game you’ll get hurt. Plain and simple.

“We have trained well, prepared well and analysed well. We will be a in a good position come 3pm on Saturday but so will they I’m sure. Our job is to go there and be better.”

Warburton is yet to name his captain for the 2019/20 campaign but he has confirmed defender Grant Hall will be wearing the armband for the opener against the Potters.

“Grant has been captain during pre-season and I see no reason to change that for the opening game,” he said.

“We will then assess the situation over the coming weeks as the squad develops.”

Warburton has almost a fully-fit squad to choose from with Lee Wallace the only absentee.

The defender, who joined from Glasgow Rangers this summer, didn’t feature during pre-season owing to a hip injury.

“Lee Wallace is the one player who is probably a couple of weeks away but other than that we are in good shape,” Warburton confirmed.

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We have trained well, prepared well and analysed well.

Mark Warburton