There are plenty of reasons for excitement among QPR fans at the moment, and their side’s recent six-game unbeaten run in the Championship is only one of them.
It would be fair to say the Hoops have endured an inconsistent season in England’s second tier, with Mark Warburton’s men boasting the title of third-highest goal scorers in the division while simultaneously holding the third-worst defensive record.
This statistic alone manifests the very nature of QPR’s exciting yet flawed campaign, but the west London side found themselves making a later surge for the play-offs following an impressive run of form prior to the EFL’s fixture suspension earlier this month.
The R’s are now sitting just six points outside the play-offs ahead of the campaign’s final nine matches, but the excellent progress made by the QPR squad this term means that promotion is definitely not the be-all or end-all for the London outfit.
In fact, there are many QPR fans who would accept a mid-table finish this season as they prepare for a more serious promotion push next campaign, with some of the club’s star players then set to be more prepared to make a top-flight impact.
The likes of Eberechi Eze and Bright Osayi-Samuel have stolen the headlines with their electric displays for the R’s this campaign, with Eze now being heavily linked with a top-flight switch to the likes of Tottenham and Crystal Palace, according to The Sun.
However, there is another emerging prospect who has also undergone notable development at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium of late, with Warburton having adopted a perhaps more unconventional method to enhance his ability this term.
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Ilias Chair’s impressive contributions from the bench have been integral to QPR’s unbeaten record during the last six matches, with the midfielder having netted important goals against Stoke and Derby in addition to his influential cameo displays.
QPR fans will have been aware of Chair’s talent for some time following his brief first-team outings since his arrival in 2017, while his loan spell at Stevenage last term also caught the eye as he netted six goals in his 16 appearances for the League Two side.
However, this is the first campaign where Chair has been a regular first-team figure in west London, and it has been a successful season for the Moroccan talent as a result of Warburton’s careful management of the midfielder over the course of the term.
The QPR boss utilised Chair as a regular starter during the opening weeks of the season as the R’s underwent mixed patches of form, but the midfielder was then dropped from the side in late November after failing to make a consistent impact on the side.
The 22-year-old’s talent was clear to see despite this absence of any marked impact, and Warburton has evidently now learned how to carefully harness Chair’s ability by offering him bursts of playing time where he is more likely to make a contribution.
Chair has now scored four goals in his 17 outings since being dropped from the starting line-up in November while he had only scored one EFL Cup goal in the 18 appearances prior to this, with the midfielder having clearly improved his attacking efficiency.
It is testament to Warburton that he has resisted the temptation of deploying Chair from the start of matches in recent weeks, with the R’s boss having realised that the ex-Stevenage loanee can play a more effective role when coming on from the sidelines.
Chair has become the latest in a considerable line of players to have made notable improvements to their game under Warburton’s guidance, and it is this subtle curve of progression which has created reason for plenty of optimism among QPR fans at present.