A narrow defeat away at the Hawthorns is by no means a poor result in the grand scheme of things for QPR but having taken an early lead against West Bromwich Albion, Mark Warburton will have been frustrated to get nothing from the game.
Andre Gray gave the R’s the best possible start by finding the net inside a minute but two second-half goals from Karlan Grant meant the visitors fell to their third consecutive Championship defeat.
The R’s don’t have to wait long for a chance to right that record as they take on Birmingham City at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Tuesday.
Warburton looks to have some difficult decisions to make ahead of that game and with that in mind, we’ve outlined two QPR headaches he has after Friday’s 2-1 loss…
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How to replace Stefan Johansen in midfield
The R’s captain limped off in the 2-1 defeat against West Brom on Friday and assuming he isn’t back in time for the game against Birmingham, replacing him looks to be a real headache for Warburton.
It’s not that he doesn’t have options, it’s more that Johansen has been one of the most influential players in the team since he arrived on loan last January.
Andre Dozzell came on to replace the Norweigian against Albion while Luke Amos returned from injury against Everton in midweek.
Alternatively, we could see Warburton shift to the more aggressive formation he opted for against Bristol City earlier this month with Dom Ball sitting deep, both Ilias Chair and Chris Willock as more advanced midfielders, and two of Charlie Austin, Lyndon Dykes, and Andre Gray up top.
That setup is risky as it puts a lot of pressure on Ball and may well leave the R’s very open but it would help them get on the front foot as they look to pick up all three points in midweek.
Have QPR ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
Who to start at left wing-back if Sam McCallum isn’t ready to return
Due to the injury Sam McCallum suffered in the Carabao Cup victory against Everton last week, Warburton started Yoann Barbet at left wing-back against Albion and the Frenchman endured a tough evening.
Darnell Furlong was given too much space on the left flank at times and though he battled hard, Barbet didn’t really look like a positive solution in place of the Norwich City loanee with Warburton hinting it may not be an experiment he tries again.
Despite playing on Friday evening, Tuesday’s game against Birmingham demands a pretty quick turnaround and if McCallum isn’t ready for that match then Warburton will have a decision on his hands.
Maxime Colin has been one of the Blues’ key performers this term and you’d worry that he could capitalise if the centre-back is crowbarred in on the left again.
With Jordy de Wijs picking up an injury against the Baggies, it could be that the naturally right-sided Osman Kakay is used on the left with Barbet returning to the back three.
That’s certainly not ideal but it’s hard to see a better option at the moment.