Belfast Telegraph

Hughes: QPR must rise to challenge

QPR manager Mark Hughes admits his relegation-threatened side need to "stand up and be counted" sooner rather than later.

The west Londoners have eight games remaining to stave off relegation from the Barclays Premier League, where they currently languish 18th in the standings. The Rs have a set of unenviable fixtures in the run-in and welcome high-flying Arsenal to Loftus Road on Saturday.

Earlier this week QPR captain Joey Barton described the match as "more than a game" and claimed "people's careers are on the line". Asked about the comments, Hughes said: "I think Joey was trying to emphasise the importance of the game. I think we all understand we want to stay in the Premier League and that is our aim. We are fully focused on that challenge."

He continued: "If we can play as we did against Liverpool [where QPR won 3-2] against the top sides we are coming up against then that will go a long way to whether we stay in the league. It is down to us and that's the point Joey was making.

"We all have to stand up and be counted and make sure that we give it our best shot. That is certainly what we will be doing."

The Rs face trips to Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City before the season's close and play an Arsenal side looking for an eighth successive win.

"Arsenal are playing exceptionally well, obviously they're winning games and their confidence is growing as a consequence of that," Hughes said. "As always it is a big, big test for us going up against an Arsenal team who, in current form, are as good as it gets."

QPR, by contrast, come into the match off the back of last weekend's 3-1 loss at Sunderland, which was compounded by Djibril Cisse's red card. The Frenchman joined the Hoops in January, but was sent off for the second time in just five appearances after a rash challenge on Fraizer Campbell

Hughes labelled the tackle as "crazy" after the match and has had words with Cisse, who will now serve a four-match suspension.

"I spoke to Djibril and made him aware of my disappointment of what happened," he said. "He understood that because he was disappointed himself in what had happened. The damage is unfortunately done and he is not available for us, which is a real shame for him because when he has played he has been a real threat."

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