Queens Park Rangers will be desperate to bounce back against Bristol City this evening after suffering a narrow defeat to AFC Bournemouth on Monday night, in what was a game filled with controversy.
With this loss and the postponement of their ties against Sheffield United and Swansea City earlier this month, they have fallen out of the play-off zone having previously looked reasonably comfortable in the top six, and will be hoping to force their way back into the promotion mix with a victory at Ashton Gate.
They face a side that have failed to get going this season under the stewardship of Nigel Pearson, being unable to gain any sort of consistency to climb their way up the second-tier table.
Quiz: Can you name which club QPR sold these 26 players to?
Being unbeaten in four home games prior to their defeat to Huddersfield Town in their last match, this may give the Robins the confidence to steal a point or three from this match, further boosted by the potential absence of the R’s key man Ilias Chair.
But the two side’s contrasting positions makes Mark Warburton side the obvious favourites in this match, needing to bounce back from recent losses against Stoke City and Bournemouth to regain their confidence as they head into this clash.
Who will be given the responsibility of guiding the visitors to a much-needed three points though?
We have predicted the starting eleven Warburton may choose ahead of this evening’s game.
The west London side may as well make the most of Seny Dieng whilst he’s here, with the shot-stopper likely to be on international duty during the African Cup of Nations next month. Jordan Archer is likely to take his place when he jets off to Africa.
After starting the last game, Lee Wallace gets the opportunity to play from the off again, though the club will be keen to manage him in the right way to avoid him sustaining another injury. His presence could be crucial to their play-off hopes, providing real balance in the back five.
Albert Adomah also starts having come on for Osman Kakay for the last 20 minutes against the Cherries, hoping he can re-establish himself as a key starter for the R’s after recovering from his injury.
Yoann Barbet, Jimmy Dunne and Rob Dickie seem to be three of the first names on the teamsheet, with Warburton managing to settle on a settled centre-back trio. Having this stability could be crucial in their quest to stay solid at the back – and they certainly have the ability to do so with Barbet, Dunne and Dickie as three of the more capable central defenders in the division.
In midfield, captain and key man Stefan Johansen has to retain his spot alongside summer signing Sam Field, who will be hoping to make up for lost time after spending the first few months of the season out with a serious knee injury.
As previously mentioned, attacking midfielder Chair is currently a doubt ahead of this evening’s match after being withdrawn at half-time against Bournemouth, and manager Warburton might be reluctant to start him despite facing the prospect of losing him anyway with AFCON on the horizon.
A formation switch may be in the pipeline because of this, with Chris Willock potentially starting as the only advanced man in the middle behind two forwards.
Andre Gray joins Lyndon Dykes in attack – and they will also have Charlie Austin to call upon if they need to make a substitution in the event of an injury or a tactical tweak. The visitors will be hoping for another goal from the former after seeing him unleash a wonderful strike against Derby County late last month.