Loftus Road will play host to a Championship-esque clash on FA Cup Third Round weekend as QPR face top-of-the-table Leeds United.
Rangers will have a quiet confidence as they head into Sunday’s match with an unbeaten record of five consecutive games while their Yorkshire visitors are suffering somewhat of a blip having lost their last two.
Boss Steve McClaren admitted he was ‘surprised’ by his team after the 2-2 draw at Villa Park on New Year’s Day – ‘they are proving me wrong’, he said, with a glint in his eye.
The past few weeks have seen the squad lose the experience of Geoff Cameron and Angel Rangel through injury, leaving the Hoops heavily reliant on youth to produce over the busy festive period.
But the continued surge in quality of Luke Freeman and young starlet Ebere Eze have led them to ninth in the table and among the pack of ambitious play-off contenders.
And they will quietly believe they have a chance, however small, to climb to sixth before the end of May and have a shot at promotion.
However a transfer embargo may limit their success; unable to strengthen an already tightly bound squad and McClaren will be praying for no more injuries as he recently decreed that ‘the squad came to the fore’ in the past few games.
Conceding just once in four quick-turn around Christmas games, McClaren has been understandably pleased with the solid foundations which has seen his side take 10 points from a possible 12 in that period.
The FA Cup has not granted QPR an easy Third Round tie but the positive signs shown over December suggests they have every chance of knocking the table-toppers out of England’s prestigious domestic trophy.
Prediction: 2-1 QPR