QUEENS Park Rangers travel to the Black Country as Wolverhampton Wanderers look to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Promotion fever has hit Molineux with a sell-out crowd looking to cheer on Mick McCarthy`s men to victory and top-flight football.
McCarthy has become the epitome of the perfect Championship manager building formidable title-challenging sides such as Sunderland and Wolves with a brand of exciting football combined with impeccable organisation.
It appears however this his sides cannot stomach the fight for the Premier League battle being relegated twice with the Black Cats with 19 and 15 points respectively.
It certainly has been an excellent turn of fortune for the side in gold and black after flattering to deceive under former England boss Glenn Hoddle. His brief tenure failed to yield the desired promotion and gave rise to declining crowds at Molineux.
The feel-good factor has since returned under McCarthy with an exciting blend of experience and youth with the likes of Keogh, Kightly and Ebanks-Blake leading the front line to great effect.
In managerless Rangers they face a side with relatively nothing to lose under the guidance of Gareth Ainsworth. The fans favourite led the R`s to an outstanding comeback at home to Sheffield Wednesday and similar team spirit will be required if the visitors are to come through this latest test.
View From The Bench
‘We want to finish as high as we can and go out there and enjoy our football, playing some entertaining stuff in the process.
‘I’ll let the players go out there and express themselves, because that’s why we all love this game. That’s what football is all about.
‘A couple of teams have been up there and got decent results this season, but I’m under no illusions and we’re expecting a very difficult game.
‘They’re top of the league for many reasons. They’re a strong, powerful, excellent footballing side, who have goals all over the park, but we’ll go up there and give our all to get a victory.’
‘I`ve surprised even myself. I felt well after Saturday`s game – I played 80 minutes and I`ve recovered well. So, I`d have been happy to start the game today; but I can`t ask for everything.
‘I`ve come on and got my goal now. I think that`s the first goal I`ve scored at that end so it`s even more special!’
‘It’s a dangerous one that because everyone will be wanting all that carnival stuff.
‘Everyone will be arriving and giving it large and wanting all that ‘yahoo’ atmosphere.
‘But we want to win and so it’s business as usual as far as I’m concerned.
‘The players have all done their warm-down as usual and will be in the ice baths and the manager is still a grumpy so-and-so.
‘And I’ll still be the same until it’s mathematically certain if it happens.’
‘I think it will be an electric atmosphere for the Wolves fans on Saturday just as it was at Pride Park on Monday when the 3,200 fans celebrated Andy Keogh’s header.
‘There’s a fabulous atmosphere around the place and we hope we can deliver what the fans want with the win that will take us back to the Premier League.’
‘It’s very close now
‘A lot of people are very happy with the position we’re in and it’s a great position to be in but we’ve got to finish the job.
‘What a position to be in with three games to go when we only need to match up other results whether it’s win, lose or draw.
‘You can’t ask for any more than that but we’ll be trying to get the job done in style by winning our last three games.’
Wolverhampton Wanderers Team News:
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is hoping to come through a late fitness test to bolster the hosts` strike force ahead of the defining clash against Queens Park Rangers. The former Manchester United forward has been suffering with a hamstring injury but is anticipated to be part of the squad on Saturday.
Wayne Hennessey will once again continue between the sticks with Richard Stearman looking to replace Jody Craddock after a shaky defensive performance against Derby County. Christophe Berra and Matt Hill are likely to their continue in the back-line.
David Edwards and Matthew Jarvis will once again look to get down the flanks and supply crosses for the youthful strike duo of Andy Keogh and Sam Vokes – but Marlon Harewood and the aforementioned Ebanks-Blake will also be pushing for starts.
Skipper Karl Henry and creative midfielder David Jones will once again be the engine room of the Wolverhampton midfield – Henry was linked with Queens Park Rangers in his time with Stoke City but instead opted to join his boyhood club.
Team v Derby: Wayne Hennessey, Kevin Foley, Jody Craddock, Christophe Berra, Matt Hill (Stephen Ward 70), David Edwards (Kyel Reid 60), David Jones, Karl Henry, Matt Jarvis, Sam Vokes (Marlon Harewood 58), Andy Keogh.
Player to watch: Andy Keogh
Vital QPR has singled out striker Andy Keogh as the One to Watch as the R`s travel to Wolverhampton tomorrow.
To view all the stats on the One To Watch Click Here >>>
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
It will be a race against time for Kaspars Gorkss to be fit in time to play against Wolves this Saturday. Kaspars sustained the injury in the second half against Sheffield Wednesday when Akpo Sodje clattered into the Latvian causing a deep cut to the bone and Kaspars was taken to hospital after the fixture for emergency stitching.
Given Rangers` extensive cover in the central defensive region combined with the fact they have little to play for, Kaspars may well be rested in favour of Matthew Connolly with Damien Delaney slotting back in at left back. Meanwhile Peter Ramage and Damion Stewart are set to retain their respective defensive berths.
Ainsworth looks set to continue with a similar midfield with Jordi López and Gavin Mahon looking to continue in the heart of midfield, while Wayne Routledge and Lee Cook will be looking to forage down the flanks.
Rowan Vine may well come in for either Heidar Helguson or Adel Taarabt after his match changing performance against the Owls. Angelo Balanta will once again be pushing for a place on the bench after some excellent performances in the reserves.
Player to watch: Rowan Vine
Vine will be looking make a similar impact as he did against Sheffield Wednesday as the R`s travel to Wolves this weekend. His match-changing substitution was a distinctive catalyst as QPR turned the game on its head.
His goal set Rangers on their way to an excellent comeback at the weekend as he rolled home following Lee Grant`s save from a persistent Wayne Routledge.
Rowan will be looking for his second goal in two games this weekend as Rangers travel to Molineux and must be considered a key threat should he begin the game or once again come from the bench.
To view Rowan`s profile Click Here >>>
LAST FIVE GAMES
QPR: W W D L W
Wolves: W W L W W
HEAD 2 HEAD
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship
Saturday December 6, 2008 – Loftus Road
QPR 1 (Rowlands 63)
Team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss, Hogan Ephraim, Gavin Mahon, Martin Rowlands, Dexter Blackstock (Lee Cook 27(Samuel Di Carmine 89)), Heidar Helguson (Damiano Tommasi 77), Patrick Agyemang.
Wolves 1-2 QPR – 26-10-1974
QPR 4-2 Wolves – 07-02-1976
Referee– Mr K Wright
Assistants – Mr M C Dexter and Mr N Murphy
Fourth official – Mr P J Grove
Mr Kevin Wright from Cambridgeshire will officiate the R`s clash with Wolves tomorrow afternoon.
To get all the stats on the official Click Here >>>
After what was a stunning comeback against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday Rangers will be hopin that they don`t have to come from behind this time our against Wolves.
Party-time will be in full swing at Molineux with Wolves looking to secure promotion to the top flight and the R`s will have to play the role of party poopers if they are to better their present 10th place position.
This however will be a very different proposition to last time, and when you`re up against opposition that have to win, they usually do because of the sheer will to win and the endeavour and strive to succeed; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Next Up In W12:
Who– Plymouth Argyle
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 25th April 2009 – 3:00pm