QPR boss suggests that Sunderland’s focus is on Everton replay
15:41 23 March 2012
Mark Hughes believes that the Black Cats may have their eyes on Wembley, instead of the Premier League game against the R’s
QPR manager Mark Hughes has suggested that Sunderland’s priority might be their FA Cup quarter final replay with Everton next Wednesday, rather than tomorrow’s game with the R’s.
The Black Cats are sitting in ninth position, a comfortable distance away from the relegation zone and are 90 minutes from a Wembley date with Liverpool, while the west Londoners are two points clear of the bottom three.
“Given their [Sunderland’s] league position, their priority might be the game in midweek,” Hughes said.
“‘They’re playing in front of their own fans. There’s a motivation to do well in front of them. It’s a difficult game on paper.”
QPR captain Joey Barton was hauled off against Liverpool to jeers from the home crowd, with replacement Jamie Mackie coming on – the decision was a successful one as Mackie went on to score the winner.
“There was obviously some criticism of Joey [Barton] and maybe a little bit of frustration from the position we found ourselves in,” Hughes added.
“Joey bore the brunt of that to a certain extent. But he’s big enough and strong enough to take that on his shoulders.
“I made the change because he wasn’t having the best of evenings and we needed to change the dynamic of the game.
“Jamie (Mackie) came on and he’s a player that has such energy late in games. He can upset people and have an impact.”
Despite taking Barton off, Hughes insisted that he will still keep the midfielder as captain.
“Joey’s got a part to play from now until the end of the season,” Hughes revealed. “He’s our Captain and he’ll get on with it.
“You saw his reaction after the game. He was delighted for the boys. Everybody is together and moving forward together.”
The R’s boss revealed that full back Armand Traore will miss the game with a hamstring injury, while Clint Hill is a doubt for tomorrow’s clash.
“Armand Traore is unavailable [for Sunderland],” he said. “He got injured before half time [against Liverpool] after a clash with Charlie Adam.
“Unfortunately he hasn’t made it and has a grade one hamstring injury. He could be out for a couple of weeks.
“Clint Hill is travelling to Sunderland but is a doubt at this stage.”
There is better news as Heidar Helguson and DJ Campbell are making progress in their return from long term injuries.
“Heidar Helguson [who has been out with a groin injury] joined in with the warm-up and initial part of training today,” Hughes said.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen him with main group. We’re delighted. DJ Campbell [who has been missing with a hamstring complaint] is also not far off being up to maximum speed.”
Squad: Kenny, Cerny, Murphy, Young, Gabbidon, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Hall, Hill, Derry, Diakite, Barton, Buzsaky, Taarabt, Smith, Mackie, Wright-Phillips, Hulse, Bothroyd, Zamora, Cisse.