Good afternoon everyone and welcome back for our first home pre-season game of 2019. I’d like to welcome everyone associated with QPR; a fantastic club who we wish all the best to for the coming season.
Obviously if you are from Oxford you can’t play QPR without thinking back to 1986 and the Milk Cup final and that’s something the club should always cherish but today is all about preparation and making sure we are ready for the challenges that lie ahead in 2019/20.
We are in good shape after six games that have tested us in a lot of different ways. The biggest test came first, away at Rangers; thank you to those who travelled and I hope you enjoyed your day at Ibrox. Then we came closer to home with games at Oxford City, Thame United, Brackley Town and Woking. We mixed things up and made sure that everyone got the right game time and came through without too many knocks and bruises. James Henry took a knock last Saturday but should be OK today, while Rob Hall took a very heavy blow in the Thame game and we will just have to see how he responds.
The one absentee so far is Jamie Mackie, who was back in training for the last couple of days. I know how desperate he is going to be to play against his former club and I know he has a great bond with the QPR fans but we will do the right thing and he will only be involved if he is fully fit.
There was one more game this week when we travelled down to Eastleigh with a very young side with an average age of under 19. It was refreshing to watch and to see them battle so hard against a much more experienced side. I was impressed and under the surface things continue to grow and improve throughout the club and the Academy. There is an attention to detail and a pride in what everyone does, and I am convinced that means a bright future.
I can almost hear you shouting: ‘what about new players?’ as you read this! As I write we are extremely close to being able to announce one and we are working extremely hard on two or three others. The core of the squad is there, and I am sure you will make Tariqe Fosu and Alex Gorrin welcome today on their home debuts, but there will also be others coming into the building before the season starts.
The last month has been about building fitness and team bonding. From today things start to get more focussed. In two weeks’ time we head for Sunderland on the opening day. Everything we do between now and then is aimed at making sure we are ready.