Belfast Telegraph

Redknapp rues injury woes

Manager Harry Redknapp hopes injury setbacks will not derail QPR's attempts to build some momentum after a superb late free-kick from Niko Kranjcar secured a 2-2 draw against Stoke at Loftus Road.

Promoted Rangers looked to be heading towards a fourth Barclays Premier League defeat before Croatian Kranjcar, on loan for a second season from Dynamo Kiev, picked himself up after being fouled 20 yards out to whip the ball over the wall and into the top corner.

Redknapp had seen his pre-match plans hit by injury to Brazilian midfielder Sandro, while captain Joey Barton and Jordon Mutch both went off with hamstring problems.

With the likes of Chile forward Eduardo Vargas, handed his first Premier League start, and on-loan Juventus defender Mauricio Isla still settling in, Redknapp can do without a selection headache ahead of next weekend's trip to high-flying former club Southampton.

"We lost Sandro in training this week, then we lost Joey early on with a hamstring, and then Jordon has to come off as well, so I have gone from having five midfielders on my books to being down to just two," he said.

"Sandro hasn't played, and that has been the problem with a lot of them - they came in as a last-minute job.

"We started the season with just 12 players, and had to go find some quickly.

"We brought players in, they were not up to speed and they need games."

Redknapp, though, was able to take encouragement from the character shown by his side, who had trailed to an early goal from Mame Diouf before a downward header by Steven Caulker was hacked into the Stoke net by Peter Crouch off Charlie Adam to pull things level.

Crouch then put the visitors ahead on 51 minutes, only for a string of wasted chances on the break to prove costly as QPR rallied during the closing stages, which Redknapp hopes can act as a springboard for the challenges ahead.

"The two away games have been difficult," he said. "We got well beaten, but we have played Tottenham and Manchester United - they are not games where you look at the start of the season and think 'we are going to go there and get some points'. They are very difficult games, and not too many teams are going to go there and win.

"There are other games, with the teams around us, that we have got to look to win."

While Stoke only have themselves to blame for failing to come away with all three points, manager Mark Hughes preferred to concentrate on the positives from what was his first return to Loftus Road since being sacked in November 2012 after just 10 months at the helm.

As well as the industry of Crouch, who had interested his former Portsmouth and Tottenham boss Redknapp in the summer, on-loan Chelsea midfielder Victor Moses was a constant threat down the flanks.

"Victor has been excellent in every game he has played for us, and has had an effect, given us that pace which we probably lacked last year," Hughes said of the 23-year-old former Wigan winger, who was a fringe player at Liverpool last season.

"He has had two years where he has not played a lot of football, and that is not because of a perceived lack of ability, but he is going to get opportunities to play for us and we have been delighted with what he has produced."

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