Belfast Telegraph

Redknapp bemoans 'gulf in class'

QPR boss Harry Redknapp believes "a gulf in class" makes it almost impossible for this season's relegation battlers to compete with the top sides in the Barclays Premier League.

Rangers secured a well-deserved 2-2 draw at home to Manchester City last month but have failed to earn another point against teams currently in the top half of the table.

The three promoted sides all find themselves in the relegation zone ahead of this weekend's fixtures, with QPR sandwiched between Leicester, who are bottom, and Burnley.

"Leicester beat Man United in September and you thought they would finish in the top half, that's how it goes in this division, it is so hard to win games, there's a gulf in class," Redknapp said.

"Man City have beaten Sunderland 4-1 and Southampton 3-0 (in the last week) - they're on another level, they can go away with 10 men and win 3-0.

"That tells you the difference in quality between Man City, Chelsea, even Arsenal - they've got massive budgets and top players.

"It is hard for clubs like Leicester, Burnley and QPR.

"Eight players that played for us against Swansea on Tuesday played in the Championship last year and came up through the play-offs."

Redknapp has no fresh injury concerns for Burnley's visit this weekend. Bobby Zamora has recovered from a back problem and could start after being left on the bench for the midweek defeat at Swansea but Adel Taarabt (groin), Sandro and Alejandro Faurlin (both knee) remain sidelined.

QPR striker Charlie Austin and former Burnley team-mate Danny Ings face each other this weekend and Sean Dyche believes the two could one day be international colleagues due to changing perceptions in England.

Austin and Ings, who have both played non-league football, are sampling the top flight for the first time in their careers with newly-promoted sides this season.

Rangers forward Austin, 25, has scored seven times in 13 games and is the joint top English goalscorer in the Barclays Premier League along with West Brom's Saido Berahino, who recently received a call up to Roy Hodgson's senior set-up.

Ings has also started to find his feet at the highest level, scoring three times for the Clarets in November and bagging a brace for the England Under-21s at Turf Moor last month, too.

The pair's form has led to suggestions that recognition from Hodgson may be on the horizon and Burnley boss Dyche, who has managed both players during their time in east Lancashire, was quick to highlight other recent call-ups to highlight Austin and Ings' cases.

"There have been similar stories," he said.

"There was a time when you wouldn't have thought Kevin Davies would have got in there so late. (Rickie) Lambert has got in there late, so it is changing.

"The viewpoint on football is changing. It's about form and player availability can come into it as well."

Ings' ascent to prominence only really occurred when Austin moved to Loftus Road at the start of last season after averaging a goal every other game at Turf Moor.

In his absence, Burnley's surprise promotion was built on the 47-goal partnership of Wales international Sam Vokes and Championship player of the year Ings.

But Dyche insists it was Vokes, currently sidelined by a knee injury, rather than Ings, that was available to step out of the shadows when Austin departed.

"It helped Vokesy's development," the Clarets manager argued.

"Danny was doing fine but it gave Vokesy more freedom to not be a bit part, to not be the man who was waiting in the wings. We said, 'You're the man, how are you going to stand up and deal with it?'

"He went, 'Okay, thanks very much'."

Burnley are expected to be without both Stephen Ward and Michael Duff due to injury.


From Belfast Telegraph