Championship side have been struck by a spate of injuries
Less than a month ago, QPR manager Harry Redknapp revealed that he anticipated little transfer activity at Loftus Road during the January transfer window. With the rate at which Rangers are losing players to injury, he may now be changing his mind.
QPR have shipped out problematic stars such as Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy, as well as under-achieving figures including Ji-Sung Park and Stephane Mbia, and for the first three months all went well, with Redknapp’s team keeping eight clean sheets and topping the table.
But the last month has been far from plain sailing for Redknapp, who has seen his side take only five points from their last five games. They were soundly beaten at Burnley, salvaged draws at Millwall, Wigan Athletic and Reading, and edged a 2-1 win over Derby County.
Rangers remain one of the favourites for promotion to the Premier League, and rightly so. With talents such as Junior Hoilett, Matty Phillips and Charlie Austin in the side, their squad is arguably the strongest in the Championship and a good bet for automatic promotion.
However, the campaign is in danger of being hamstrung by injuries, indeed, the list of players who have had spells on the sidelines this season gets longer each week. Andy Johnson, Junior Hoilett, Nedum Onuoha and Niko Kranjcar have all missed games with various problems.
Midfielder Alejandro Faurlin is out for at least six months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while Bobby Zamora is not expected to return from his hip operation until Christmas and Tom Carroll has had to return to his parent club Tottenham Hotspur for treatment on an ankle injury picked up playing for England Under-21s.
In addition, Jermaine Jenas and Richard Dunne both picked up minor injuries during the weekend’s draw at Reading, with the international break coming at the perfect time for both.
Redknapp may well have altered his thinking. It would be a surprise if the manager did not, at the very least, move to add strength in depth to his side.
He will almost certainly move for a midfielder. QPR have plenty of wide men in the likes of Hoilett, Phillips, Gary O’Neil and even the almost-forgotten Shaun Wright-Phillips.
But the manager may well choose to add depth in central midfield, and an additional figure in the mould of Karl Henry – an ‘enforcer’, could be drafted in.
In defence, Redknapp brought in USA centre-back Oguchi Onyewu as cover for Clint Hill and Richard Dunne, and hinted this week that he may extend the American’s short-term deal.
Onuoha can play at right-back and centre-back, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto has made the left-back position his own, and is ably backed-up by Armand Traore.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility comes in attack, where Charlie Austin remains first-choice. Johnson, if he does not return to Crystal Palace in January, is, at best, an injury-prone alternative. Zamora, once he returns, will find it difficult to get anywhere near the first team having failed to impress during his Rangers career.
That may mean a move for a striker, and at the same time a loan move away from Loftus Road for Tom Hitchcock, who is scoring regularly for the Under-21s side.
Redknapp will be hoping QPR do not suffer any more long-term injuries, or his need to dip into the transfer market in the New Year will become ever more pressing.
image: © joncandy