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Redknapp: Rio's still grand


Rio Ferdinand has had a slow start to his QPR stint

Rio Ferdinand has had a slow start to his QPR stint

Rio Ferdinand has had a slow start to his QPR stint

Harry Redknapp insists Rio Ferdinand still has a part to play in QPR's survival bid as the former England captain returns from suspension.

Ferdinand was hit with a three-game ban following comments he posted on Twitter but is now eligible to return at a key time for the R's - who are without Richard Dunne for the visit of Leicester on Saturday as he serves his own suspension having collected five yellow cards.

Former Manchester United man Ferdinand has endured a difficult start to life at Loftus Road having decided to be reunited with Redknapp at the twilight of his playing career.

He started the first seven Premier League games of the season, with QPR taking just one point and keeping one clean sheet in that time, before a groin injury saw him sidelined. Then he was handed his Football Association punishment for his Tweet.

But Redknapp is now ready to welcome the 36-year-old back into the fold as the club enter a period of games which could prove vital to their top-flight survival.

"Absolutely, he can play a big role," said Redknapp.

"Hopefully he is going to be fit. He is going to train and we will assess his fitness. He has not played for a few weeks now. He had the suspension.

"We will have a look at it and see how he is. Rio does not have anything to prove to anybody. He has been a fantastic player for so many years. He is not one that I have to worry about."

Redknapp also leapt to the defence of Ferdinand's form leading into his lay-off, insisting he remains happy to have signed him over the summer.

"It has been difficult," he conceded.

"He has come from a team who win every week to a team who has come out of the Championship and found it difficult. It has been a difficult period.

"He probably was not getting a lot of protection. It was not just Rio, whoever played at the back found it difficult in those early games. We have looked more solid recently. I am delighted to have him here."

Ferdinand may be in contention to return but fellow summer recruit Sandro is missing having injured his knee in the defeat to Newcastle on Saturday.

Although it is unclear when the former Tottenham man will return, Redknapp believes the Brazil international is lucky not to be facing a lengthy spell out.

"It could have been a damaging one for him and could have put him out for a year," he said.

"That is a big blow to us, losing him until after the Christmas period. He took a bad bang on his knee. We looked the video of it and it could have been even worse.

"The bang he took on that knee, it could have been an awful lot worse, and his knee must have been very strong to take that. It is not easy for him but he has got to come back stronger."