Sport Soccer

Saturday 14 December 2019

Redknapp wants goals from midfield

Eduardo Vargas is poised for his home QPR debut
Eduardo Vargas is poised for his home QPR debut

Harry Redknapp has ordered his midfielders to bridge QPR's goal gap until he can hunt further striking reinforcements in the January transfer window.

The Rangers boss will hand a home debut to on-loan Chile striker Eduardo Vargas in Saturday's Premier League clash with Stoke at Loftus Road.

Redknapp admits there is plenty of goal pressure resting on Napoli forward Vargas, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora after he failed to secure Jermain Defoe to replace Chelsea-bound Loic Remy at the start of the month.

Redknapp has challenged Jordon Mutch, Leroy Fer and Sandro to ease the burden on his forward line as Rangers fight for top-flight stability.

"Obviously we lost Remy right before the window closed that left us in a difficult situation," said Redknapp.

"So that is a problem, but we need Charlie to get his goals, and Vargas who is now available, but we need goals from midfield, from the likes of Mutch and Fer.

"Midfield players have got to weigh in with seven or eight goals, and if they don't do that they're not producing.

"They can't leave it all up to the strikers.

"You need forward-running players, Sandro can get forward and we need Fer to open his legs to join more.

"We've got options, with Bobby and Vargas, so we'll have a look at it and see how we go."

Redknapp had claimed France striker Remy was "too decent a guy" to leave QPR in the lurch by taking a move away from Loftus Road just hours before the September 1 transfer deadline.

Remy's expected Liverpool switch collapsed at the start of the summer with the Anfield club claiming the striker failed a medical.

Redknapp and Remy were nonplussed about the Liverpool deal falling apart, and the former Newcastle man returned to QPR.

Former Spurs boss Redknapp then backed Remy to remain at Loftus Road, only for his worst fears to materialise and Chelsea to swoop at the last minute.

Charlie Austin blasted his first Premier League goal in QPR's 1-0 home victory over Sunderland on August 30, but Redknapp has refused to rule out dipping back into the transfer market in the next window.

"We thought we had Defoe coming but that didn't quite get over the line so we were unlucky with that one," he said.

Manager Mark Hughes has challenged Stoke to conjure up the same spirit which saw them beat Manchester City away when they travel to his former club.

Hughes is expected to face a hot reception at Loftus Road, where he was sacked in November 2012 following a testing 10 months in charge as the west London club found themselves rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League, despite a major summer spending spree, and would eventually be relegated under Harry Redknapp.

The Welshman, though, has seen his stock rise again after an impressive campaign at the Britannia Stadium, guiding the Potters to ninth place after succeeding Tony Pulis last May.

Stoke pulled off a well-orchestrated 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium before the international break, only to let themselves down when domestic action resumed by losing at home to newly-promoted Leicester.

"I hope the performance at Man City is still in everyone's mind to show what it takes to do well in away games in the Premier League," said Hughes.

"We want to get back to winning ways and if we can do that on the road then so be it.

"I sense that away from home we are better equipped than last year because we have more threats and different types of threats. But we have got to produce it because talk is easy."

While all the pre-match build-up had surrounded Hughes' return to Loftus Road, the former Wales manager maintains his focus is very much on continuing his work at Stoke, with suggestions a contract extension could be on the horizon.

"We view it as the next Premier League game rather than a return to an old club, and it is not an easy fixture. We saw against Leicester that they still had the flush of enthusiasm following promotion," he said.

On his own long-term future, Hughes added: "I have had no conversations to that end. It was reported last week that there may be talks in the future. I hope so, because it is a great club.

"My star had faded somewhat when I arrived. The Coates family [owners] showed faith in my ability and I am very grateful.

"I would like to think that I repaid them a little bit last season with what we achieved together and we would love to build upon that."

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