QPR face a different sort of challenge on Saturday afternoon as the R’s look to overcome League One strugglers MK Dons.
Robbie Neilson’s team are 19th in the third tier but do still have players who can potentially cause Rangers problems at Loftus Road. We assess where the game can be won and lost.
Chuks Aneke v Jack Robinson
MK Dons star man and the player most likely to effect the game in the final third - the former Arsenal trainee could have a big influence on proceedings in W12. The 24-year-old combines skill with excellent physical qualities and his unique style make him a real difficult opponent to mark. The front-man has had a couple of long term injuries in the last few seasons but has looked back to his best in recent times and has scored seven goals in 19 appearances this campaign.
But not many have got the better of Jack Robinson this season. The defender has excelled in his new centre back position and his passing out from the back has given the R’s back-line another dimension to the way we play. He will likely relish the contest against the MK Dons talisman.
Conor Mcgrandles v Massimo Luongo
Two players who will be tasked with the role of keeping things ticking over in midfield and getting up and down the pitch.
It took Mcgrandles a while to establish himself as member of Robbie Neilson’s first team but he has started every game since he was given a chance against Southend back on the 21st November. The Scottish midfielder is an accurate passer of the ball and has a great engine on him. The 22-year-old has kept the more experienced Ed Upson on the bench during the last month and he will hope that his form will reward him with another start.
Massimo Luongo has been Mr. Reliable for QPR this season. The Australian international is so comfortable in possession but has impressed with some excellent tackles and interceptions this campaign with his reading of the game dramatically improving. So often a vital man for QPR in terms of keeping the ball and giving it to others and as usual he will look to try and boss the midfield areas.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell v Paul Smyth
A no nonsense centre half coming up against a fearless 20-year-old is the final key battle for this cup game.
Ebanks-Landell is a big presence in the MK Dons defence and has experience of playing at this level before with Wolves. The defender has been ever present for the League One outfit this season and was sensational a couple of weeks’ ago when they defeated Peterborough 1-0 despite playing much of the game with nine men. His main qualities come in the form of heading and tackling but he can be prone to lapses in concentration.
One man he won’t want to switch off against is QPR youngster Paul Smyth who will be buzzing following his debut goal last week. The little Northern Irish forward was a constant thorn in the Cardiff City defence on New Year’s Day and his clever movement and acceleration can potentially heap further misery on the MK Dons defence.