Injuries have begun to stretch the Queen’s Park Rangers squad thin. The absence of Anton Ferdinand on Sunday brought about a return for Clint Hill, while Kieron Dyer replaced the injured Jose Bosingwa at full-back. Adel Taarabt, Jamie Mackie and Junior Hoilett have all been left out of the side at one point or another in favour of Shaun Wright-Phillips. So what does this tell us ?
As the title suggests, it implies that the first team squad is beginning to be penetrated by the R’s fringe players. It was only a superb pre-season that prevented Wright-Phillips from languishing on the bench and in the reserves – ordinarily he would not be the first choice on the flanks.
Dyer meanwhile has been the butt of so many jokes that coming off five minutes into his debut would, in the eyes of many, have been the sum total of his contribution to the club.
Nevertheless, both men were superb on Sunday. Dyer, playing as an auxiliary full-back, dealt extremely well with the potent attacking threat posed by Tottenham Hotspur on the wings. Wright-Phillips, despite lacking end product and too often running into trouble, has improved drastically so far this season.
The message from these two players is a positive one, that far from being dependent on a small group of first teamers, Rangers now possess a squad rather than a starting X1. Despite this, the under-usage of three individuals is beginning to raise a few eyebrows.
Taarabt appears to be in almost permanent isolation. Djibril Cisse seems to have been rewarded for firing the R’s to safety with a place on the bench and nothing more. Hoilett too has been pushed from starting to substitute berth once or twice, and showed what Mark Hughes was missing with a stinging volley that was well saved by Brad Friedel.
Still, with injuries to Ferdinand, Bosingwa, Fabio and Andy Johnson, Samba Diakite just having returned from compassionate leave and Stephane M’Bia yet to make any sort of appearance, now is the time for a squad able to step up.
West Ham United await Hughes’s men and their search for a first three points of the campaign on Monday 1st October. While being second bottom after five games is wholly recoverable, anything but a victory against the Hammers and questions will begin to be asked, whether fair or not.
Freelance journalist and Sky Sports writer