FOLLOWING the international break, Mark Warburton is looking forward to seeing his QPR side back in action this weekend – and he has urged his players to make sure they play their game at their tempo when they host Luton Town.
The Hatters have made a solid start to life in the Championship following promotion from League One last season, taking seven points from their first six fixtures.
Back-to-back wins in the league prior to the break have shifted them up the table, and Warbuton isn’t surprised to see any of the newly-promoted sides doing well. In fact, he predicted as much to his squad at the start of the season.
“I said to the players that the biggest mistake teams make is underestimating the promoted teams,” the R’s boss explained, “because they come up with a winning mentality, they know how to win, they have that togetherness and desire, and they know what they are good at.
“I said to the boys at the start that one of the promoted teams will be in the top ten come the end of the season.
“At the moment, that looks like Charlton but Luton and Barnsley are tough teams, they are well organised with good, individual players and collectively they know what their job is as a team.
“That’s why Luton will be a really tough test for us.”
Like Luton, Rangers went into the break on the back of two wins but Warburton was happy for the international weekend to come when it did.
“The break is good for the players in terms of recharging their batteries,” he said. “They worked very hard throughout pre-season and in the initial games of the campaign, so it was a good break for us.
“We have used it wisely, worked very hard going into the break and had a good week this week so hopefully the batteries are recharged because we face another tough test at the weekend.”
Luton’s wins over Barnsley and Huddersfield sandwiched an impressive 3-0 victory at Cardiff in the Carabao Cup, making this weekend’s visitors a real form-team.
But the R’s gaffer has faith in what his squad is capable of.
“Our job is to be better at our job than they are at theirs,” he said. “We have got to make Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium a very, very tough place for an opponent to come to.
“We have got to play our game at our tempo, our intensity, move the ball about quickly and get the rewards.
“If we do that we are a very tough team to beat, a good team. If we don’t, if our standards drop slightly, we become a very average team, very quickly.
“Our responsibility to our supporters is to make sure they enjoy coming to watch their team.”
Warburton confirmed Lee Wallace (hip) is close to making his QPR debut, while Olamide Shodipo (knee) is also nearing a return to full fitness. Bright Osayi-Samuel has been ruled out with a minor muscle strain.
“Lee is very close now but Ryan Manning will not give up his shirt cheaply – and you want that,” Warburton said. “Todd Kane is pushing Angel really hard but Angel won’t give up his shirt cheaply.
“You need that level of competition but what it means is we can make changes when we want to and keep it fresh, adding the energy and the intensity.”