QPR’s January transfer window: Departing AFCON stars may force Mark Warburton to act

3 min

Despite their strongest start to a Championship season in over six years, QPR could be about to enter a make-or-break period for the Premier League promotion hopes.

Mark Warburton’s side sit fifth in the table with 35 points from 21 games, leaving them eight points off second-placed AFC Bournemouth with two games in hand on their rivals.

In comparison, the Hoops sat 19th in the table and just four points above the drop after the same amount of games last season. The turning point for last season? The January transfer window. 

Now, with their most serious promotion push since reaching the Premier League under Harry Redknappp in 2013/14, QPR fans will be hoping their club can replicate that successful window and bring in some faces to help bolster the squad.

However, much of the club’s recruitment plans could hinge on the upcoming African Cup of Nations with key personnel such as goalkeeper Seny Dieng and creative spark Ilias Chair both scheduled to make the trip to Cameroon for next month’s tournament.

Dieng has been instrumental in QPR’s impressive defensive performances, rescuing points for his side on a number of occasions while Chair, alongside Chris Willock, has contributed to six goals and three assists so far this season. 

Dieng and Chair, and Osman Kakay, could be away on international duty for their respective nations for up to NINE games – leaving an already thin squad further stretched ahead of a busy period of games.

QPR have not been without their injury problems as well with the absence of left-back Lee Wallace particularly a cause for concern.

Kakay, Albert Adomah, Moses Odubajo, Sam Field and Chris Willock have all tried to play the left-wing back role in the Hoops’ 5-2-3 system – but none quite so well as Wallace. 

Since joining from Rangers in June 2019, Wallace has had a stop-start career in West London which has been beset by injury and if QPR want to stay in the promotion reckoning, then natural cover for the Scot may be a priority.

At the other end, Charlie Austin, Lyndon Dykes and Andre Gray have been leading the line but injuries to the latter two have left Warburton with 32-year-old Austin as the only option for a number of games.

Whilst Austin impressed last season with eight league goals following his arrival on loan in January from West Brom, the veteran striker has just two goals to his name so far this season and looks far less of an attacking threat. 

READ MORE: QPR’s astute transfer policy continues to pay dividends with flying Championship start

Meanwhile, Macauley Bonne has shone during his loan spell at Ipswich Town this season and Warburton has already alluded to the idea he may be recalled as QPR look to deal with their attacking issues.

With the club still feeling the effects of the Financial Fair Play fine handed to them years ago and, with the current global pandemic throwing football clubs into even further economic disarray, loan market moves are likely to be the obvious choice.

The approach served QPR well last year and would make perfect sense again this time around with their trio of AFCON players likely to return by the end of February at the latest.

Although QPR fans shouldn’t expect a January window as successful as last year, there should still be a quiet confidence that Mark Warburton and his team will get some deals done.

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