Belfast Telegraph

Martinez wary of improving QPR

Roberto Martinez thinks timing is not in Everton's favour ahead of Monday's Premier League clash with QPR.

Rangers have won two of their last three games, beating fellow strugglers Leicester and Burnley to climb out of the relegation zone.

QPR's leading scorer Charlie Austin is suspended following his dismissal against Burnley but Martinez has been impressed by Harry Redknapp's side.

The Everton manager said: "QPR had a little bit of a difficult start because obviously when you get new players you're trying to find the right combinations.

"I think Harry Redknapp now has found the right formula and they are in the best moment of their season. They've been unfortunate in a couple of games, I think they should have had more points than what they've got.

"I know they've got Charlie Austin missing for this game but I think this group are in a good moment and we respect them hugely.

"I've always admired Harry Redknapp as a manager with his experience and his management skills and know-how."

What should play in Everton's favour is that the game is at Goodison Park, and QPR have yet to pick up a single point on their travels.

Martinez is wary of reading too much into that, though, saying: "The results that they've had have been well deserved. Even away from home, I thought the Southampton performance they were very unfortunate not to get a reward from that.

"You don't look back when you face a team. All you're looking at is how well you can perform and obviously we're looking at a very important period for us in the league to try to get as many points as we can."

John Stones could make an unexpected comeback.

The 20-year-old defender, who sustained an ankle injury against Manchester United on October 5, is back in training ahead of schedule and in contention for a place in the squad.

Steven Naismith, James McCarthy (both hamstring) and Darron Gibson (knee) will also be given a chance to prove their fitness, but midfielder Gareth Barry is suspended and Christian Atsu's hamstring injury is still being assessed.

Harry Redknapp will welcome Adel Taarabt back into his QPR squad - but only once the Moroccan playmaker has proved his fitness.

The pair fell out in October after Redknapp claimed Taarabt was "three stones overweight", prompting the gifted but erratic forward to respond by saying he was being used a scapegoat for the club's poor start to the season.

The 25-year-old has not played since because of a groin strain and has made just three Barclays Premier League appearances after returning from a six-month loan spell at AC Milan over the summer

Redknapp insists a fit Taarabt still has a future at Loftus Road and has no plans to off-load him in the January transfer window.

"It's up to Adel if he gets back into the team. Only he can get himself fit and ready to play. You can take a horse to water.....but how far is the water?" Redknapp said.

"I don't look that far ahead to January 1, I just want Adel to get fit and start playing football. We need him fit and playing. If he's fit he's back in he squad, I've told him that.

"I'll only be too pleased to have him involved. I don't hold grudges against him, I just want him fit.

"He's not training at the moment. He's back with the fitness coach. He's had a bit of a groin strain that he hasn't been able to shake off."

QPR are hoping to edge away from the relegation zone when they face Everton but Redknapp knows England midfielder Ross Barkley will be a major threat to their ambition of claiming their first away points of the season.

"Barkley is top class and one the most exciting players in the Premier League," Redknapp said.

"He has everything - great ability, good physique, he's strong and runs with the ball, He's a real top young player."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph