Thorne back in 16. Q.P.R preview

Last updated : 26 November 2004 By Michael Morris
City face Q.P.R. for the first time since the play off final in May 2003. On that day City triumphed thanks to Andy Campbell's extra time winner. City moved into Division 1 at Rangers expense but it did not take too long before the Londoners had joined us. They made automatic promotion in 2004.

Similar to City last season they are enjoying life at this level. They sit in the play off places, 7 points behind leaders Wigan. Last weekend they had a blip, after former City player Gareth Ainsworth had given them the lead at Elland Rd, Leeds went on to score 6 and finish up 6 - 1 winners.

Ainsworth is looking forward to this game

"I can't lie - the fixtures with Cardiff were the first I looked for when the fixture list came out in the summer," Ainsworth told the Echo.

"I won't be on a personal mission. If you try too hard, it can affect your game. I'm a team player and QPR winning is my priority. If I have a great game, then brilliant. If I end up just being part of a winning team, then fine. But I really enjoyed playing for Cardiff and their fans have a special place in my heart."

Cardiff are at the opposite end of the table, just a couple of points off the drop zone. Rangers are clear favourites for this game and City will do well to earn anything at Loftus Rd. The Hoops have not lost at home since August.

Don't forget it's an early kick off. 12:45 in West London.

In the league fixtures during the 2002 / 03 season City pulled off a 4 - 0 win at Loftus Rd (report here). It was a real miscarriage of justice. Q.P.R. slaughtered us for the best part of an hour before Earnie scored a hat trick and even Andy Campbell got on the score sheet as Rangers fell apart.

They leveled the series with a 2 - 1 win at Ninian Park, Richard Langley getting the winner for Rangers. The play off victory was the icing on the cake though and the biggest day out for City fans since the 1927 cup final.

Rangers will be without boss Ian Holloway. He is still sidelined with a stomach illness and is not expected to return to work until Monday. Holloway earned huge respect from Cardiff fans at the Millennium Stadium when he shook hands with City skipper Kavanagh and then proceded to applaud the City teams as they were crowned play off winners. Holloway maybe mad as a tree at times but he will always get my respect.

City fans will get a chance to yell some abuse at Marc Bircham. 1, because he crocked Graham Kavanagh in an international match last season and 2, becuase he looks a right twit with his painted hair.

City will welcome Peter Thorne back from a neck injury. He was not risked in Wednesday's reserve team defeat but he will be on the bench on Saturday. Richard Langley is likely to travel with the City squad but is not ready to play after a long injury lay off.

The game has come a little too early for me and I accept I won't be playing," said Langley.

Gaham Kavanagh is still suspended, this is game 2 of 3. Willie Boland and Lee Bullock get another chance together in midfield.

City probable

Warner, Williams, Collins, Gabbidon, Barker, McAnuff, Bullock, Boland, Ledley, Parry, Lee. Subs Alexander, Weston, Vidmar, Thorne, Jerome.

At best a win for City could see us edge away from the danger area. At worse a defeat could see us drop into the bottom three. City's next game is at home to struggling Gillingham. A reverse at Loftus Rd would be tough for City but the bookies will tell you that's the favourite outcome. The Gillingham game though is a must win.