Robins previews Saturday’s game at QPR
Mark Robins cannot wait to see his team test itself against one of the Sky Bet Championship’s promotion favourites when Town travel to Loftus Road for Saturday’s game against Queens Park Rangers.
Robins will take charge of his 300th game as Manager this weekend on the back of the midweek arrival of Joe Lolley from Kidderminster and he told htafc.com that the wide attacker had an impressive training debut at Canalside.
“Joe is fresh in the building. He trained with us for the first time on Thursday and had a really good session; he scored one or two goals. The lads have been really good with him and he’s settled in quickly, as has Nahki.
“I’m watching how Joe settles in over these couple of days. He’s on an upwards curve; it’s ridiculous to think he has stepped up eight leagues in 18 months, which is a fairy-tale for him. He can’t quite believe how quickly he has made this step, but it doesn’t appear that way when he gets out on the pitch and puts his boots on.
“There’s no doubt about it – he’s a good player. We don’t expect him to walk into the team at this moment in time, but we’re excited about working with him. I’ve asked him to work hard every single day when he comes in and he’s told me he will, so if he’s true to his word he will progress with us. He’s 21, but because of his background he’s like an 18 year-old in terms of his development and he has to adapt.”
Lolley was Town’s second January capture, following hot on the heels of Club record signing Nahki Wells. The Manager believes these incomings were possible due to the stability of the stability behind the scenes at ‘The Yorkshire Club’:
“There was a heck of a lot of interest in him and we’re delighted to get him, because he is hungry and has real potential.
“That’s the beauty of having such a stable Board of Directors with a clear plan and philosophy. We don’t bring people in for the sake of it – there is a plan there and we look at how we can add to the squad sensibly when opportunities arise, which we have done well so far this transfer window. We haven’t put ourselves under pressure to get a certain number of players, but we’re constantly assessing opportunities.”
Town will need as many attacking threats as possible to get the result at QPR, who boast the division’s best defensive record by some distance – just 15 goals conceded in 25 outings.
Mark continued: “QPR have conceded four goals at home all season; they are really stingy at the back. They’ve got good players throughout the side and they’re talking about adding more from top clubs around the globe. It’s a really good club.
“Going down there, we will have to be at our best and they will need to have an off day, because they have players who have played at the top level. It’s a really interesting game from our perspective.
“We have to do what we’ve delivered all the way throughout this season and keep striving to get better. This is a good opportunity to play against a side that is a favourite to go up this season.”
Robins’ options have been boosted by the return of players from the treatment room, as he explained:
“Everyone is recovering on the injury front.
“Peter Clarke will join in training today for the first time since his injury, which is great news. He’s been out for a while but he’s back quicker than anticipated, which is no real surprise as he’s worked his socks off since he got injured. It’s great for him as he’s missed playing; he’s been toiling in the gym on his own and three months is a long time.
“Joel Lynch is still a little bit sore, but he’s joined in training this week. Martin Paterson picked up a little bit of a thigh problem last week, so we’ll assess him today before we finalise the travelling group. It’s too soon for Peter obviously, but I wouldn’t rule any of the other players out.”
One player who has returned from injury this week is top scorer James Vaughan:
“James has had a period out, where he’s missed around a month through suspension and then another five games through injury. James has to be fit and firing because I want him out on the pitch for as long as he can be. He has trained this week and he’ll certainly be involved on Saturday.
“I can see him and Nahki forming a really good partnership, but he has to be ready to take that opportunity because Martin Paterson has scored five in as many games and Danny Ward is working his socks off. We also have Jon Stead who has not featured regularly, Cristian Lopez and Daniel Carr, who is currently out on loan.
“In the end, there are only one or two strikers who can play on a Saturday and that will leave some of those disappointed. They have to work hard to try and dislodge the players who are in form and in possession of the shirts.”