Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Magilton is such a lucky Jim

Jim Magilton has taken a swipe at former club Ipswich Town, on the eve of the new season this weekend.

The QPR boss and former Northern Ireland midfielder believes he now has more quality at Loftus Road than he left behind with Ipswich.

Magilton, preparing his men to face Blackpool in their Championship opener tomorrow, was sacked by Town in April before being replaced by Roy Keane.

However, as both teams prepare to battle it out for promotion this season, Magilton likes what he sees with his new squad: “There is more quality here without any shadow of a doubt. There's more quality all over the park and more experience too.

“The application and attitude of the players has been first class from the moment I arrived.

“We're now hoping to get off to a good start and build from there.

“I feel we're ready for next week now — the players have set the standard.”

At Magilton’s former club Gareth McAuley will hope that he continues to impress new boss Keane.

McAuley has gone from strength to strength for both club and country since Magilton brought him from Leciester City to Portman Road last summer.

Now under the guidance of legendary Keane, McAuley and company will travel to face Coventry City on Sunday.

He is likely to come up against international team-mate Sammy Clingan, a recent capture for Chris Coleman at the Ricoh Arena.

There is more local interest when Reading welcome Nottingham Forest, as Brendan Rodgers takes charge of his first competitive game with the Royals.

Rodgers left Watford after less than a season in charge, having fulfilled his brief by keeping the Hornets in the Championship.

However, his job at Reading is likely to be much different and they are expecting to return to the Premier League before long.

The Carnlough man has brought in Frank Lampard Snr as his football consultant. Together they will target promotion, but Rodgers insists his ambition doesn’t end there.

“Promotion will be talked about but my ambition is much more than that,” the former Ballymena United player said.

“This club has been managed exceptionally well over the last 20 years.

“It is run on very sound business principles and the aim is to be a sustainable club in the top flight.

“I've had an association with Reading since I was 13 years of age and I've seen the growth over the last 20 years.”

The first game in the Championship calendar will see recently relegated Middlesbrough entertain Sheffield United tonight.

Northern Ireland striker Jamie Ward will miss out after being sent off in last season’s play-off defeat to Burnley at Wembley.

All eyes will be on Newcastle on Saturday evening as they begin life back in the second tier of English football away to West Brom.

Winger Chris Brunt was expected to move on in the summer with Fulham and Rangers reportedly interested in the Belfast man. However, he has remained at the Hawthorns to help The Baggies bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Championship new boys Scunthorpe United will have both Grant McCann and Michael |O’Connor in their midfield for the trip to the new Cardiff City Stadium.