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Warburton: We’re growing as a squad

MARK Warburton believes that his QPR squad will learn a great deal from their difficult November.

Despite some good spells in matches, they were unable to record a victory during the month and, as a result, have slipped away from the Championship’s play-off places.

Ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Preston North End in W12 – Rangers’ first game of December – the boss says that his players will be stronger for the tough period.

“I spoke so highly of them [the players] a few weeks ago because of the work they have done to gel together, to take on new ideas and it is such a demanding league as well,” he told www.qpr.co.uk.  

“It challenges you every week, the games come thick and fast and many demands are placed on your squad members, young and old.

“The players have responded so well and that is why November, when it has been difficult for us, can be used as character building for the squad.

“We have to be better for it, learn lessons and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes. We are working very hard and I have every confidence that this squad will continue to grow from here.”

Preston will arrive in west London on a tough run themselves. After going top of the table in early November, the Lilywhites have since lost their last three league games.

Warburton knows what a tough test they will post his team, though.

He said: “It was a good performance by them against West Brom [on Monday night] and they were undone by a very harsh penalty. 

“They are well organised, are disciplined, they know their roles and they strike me as a team of men. What I mean by that is that they can go home and away and they know the division, have good experience and have good quality in their ranks.

“They’re a very tough opponent, we respect that but we are a very good team as well and we have to show that on Saturday.”

He added: “Preston start every game on the front foot, we have to recognise that. They have pace up top, they have physicality and [Jayden] Stockley is a clear target man.

“They get forward with quality, pick up second balls quickly and they are organised at the back. We have analysed them well and I’m sure they have done the same to us.

“We are at home, we have to be on the front foot, we have to use the ball wisely, take our chances and defend our goal with a passion. Hopefully our supporters will see us win at our home stadium.”

The manager revealed that defender Yoann Barbet is now eligible for selection again, having missed the last few weeks with a hamstring injury.

He said: “Yoann is back, training on grass and is available again, which is great. Liam Kelly is probably two weeks away and the medical team are doing a superb job with him.

“The squad is getting fit and well, which is important for us. After Saturday, we go to Birmingham on Wednesday and then Barnsley and then play on the 21st, 26th and 29th, 1st, 4th and so on. It’s that demanding period of the season where you have to have the squad fit and well.”

With only one month until the New Year, Warburton was also asked about the upcoming January transfer window. 

He said: “January is the toughest window. You’re either in a relegation fight and the selling club know that you’re going to pay up or you’re at the top [of the league] and they know you’re going to pay up.

“The £2m player becomes £4m, the £500k player becomes £1.2m and we can’t as a club overreach. We always have to seek value with every pound that we spend.

“If the right player becomes available then I’m sure we will move. We know what we need to do to strengthen and we want to improve ourselves over the coming transfer windows.

“However, we cannot be the club in January that spends what they shouldn’t. If the right player is available, we will act. If he isn’t then we will wait until the right time.”

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I have every confidence that this squad will continue to grow from here.

Mark Warburton