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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gregory Critical of Pre-Season Preparations & Looks to Coming Pre-Season...Rohan Ricketts Interested in London Return

Gregory slams Rs' summer 'short cuts'
By Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times

QPR boss John Gregory believes a severe lack of summer preparation has contributed to Martin Rowlands' injury woes this season.

The Rangers midfielder, who missed the second half of last season due to injury, has broken down FOUR times during the current campaign with calf and hamstring problems.

The most recent of those came three weeks ago when Rowlands limped off at Pride Park, having put Rangers in front against promotion-chasing Derby.

Rowlands was still unavailable for the Rs' game against West Brom last weekend and Gregory is concerned by the frequency of the midfielder's injury setbacks.

"One or two players have suffered because, in my opinion, they didn't have a proper pre-season, and I think Rowly is one of those," stated the Rangers manager.

"He's got a history of hamstring problems and that's a real concern for us. The workload has been constant for everybody and now we're looking to get across that finishing line.

"Obviously a well-organised and thorough pre-season is what everyone needs at the club - it's such an important time. There are no short cuts when you set yourself up for the following nine months."

Rangers' warm-up schedule last summer was somewhat chaotic, with original dates and opponents on their week-long trip to Italy changing at short notice.

One of the games they did play, against Sorrento Calcio, took place on an artificial surface and saw former assistant manager Alan McDonald and goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts feature in the QPR side.

At home, fixtures against Brentford and Milton Keynes Dons were also cancelled and the Rs eventually played just one match against League opposition.

This time, Gregory is determined to focus on the domestic front, saying: "I don't want us to be on planes for six weeks, travelling all over Europe.

"Although we might pop across to Dublin for a couple of games, like we used to when I was a player here, most of our preparation will be done at home.

"That includes playing some games at home - if it's at Loftus Road, it needs to be a big name to attract the crowds, but that's what I'd like to do."

In recent years, Loftus Road has staged sell-out friendlies against Celtic, as well as games against the likes of Ajax, Steaua Bucharest, Tottenham and the Iranian national side. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times -London calling

QPR new boy Rohan Ricketts has revealed he is seeking a permanent move back to London at the end of the season.

Ricketts, who made his Rangers debut as a late substitute in Saturday's 2-1 defeat by West Brom, is under contract with Wolves for another year, but wants to return to the capital this summer.

The 24-year-old midfielder previously played for both Arsenal and Tottenham and admits he would not rule out the chance of a permanent switch to Loftus Road.

Ricketts told the Times: "I know Dexter Blackstock and Lee Cook, because we've all got the same agent, and it's been easy settling in here - there's a good buzz about the place.

"It's nice to be back in London, I'm just down the road from my mum and dad's, and I think my body feels more relaxed just for being here.

"I'm trying to sort something out so that I might not have another year at Wolves. I've spoken to Gianni [Paladini] and he's very positive about things, so you never know."

Ricketts, who was brought to Wolves by his former Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle in 2005, had alternative loan moves blocked by the Molineux club prior to the transfer deadline.

But he has no regrets about the switch to QPR, affirming his belief that the club will beat the drop from the Championship, and is anxious to play a part in achieving that goal.

"A few clubs phoned up, but Wolves declined. Then QPR phoned and they said no at first, but at the last minute the gaffer said I could go and John Gregory made it happen," Ricketts recalled.

"I'm not going to go into details about who the other options were, but I think Wolves didn't want me to go to a club they considered to be in competition with themselves.

"I'm very confident we can stay out of trouble - you can see it in the attitude.

"We deserved at least a point against West Brom and it tells you something that the fans cheered the team off.

"I think I touched the ball once so, in that respect, it wasn't a great debut, but I'm just looking to get a place in the side and I'd prefer it to be in a central midfield role, so hopefully I can get more involved.

"There's quality in the side and with the right application to bring it out, we can turn out some good performances into good results."

Rangers are in urgent need of those, starting with the Easter weekend that sees them travel to Coventry City on Saturday, before taking on bottom club Luton Town at Loftus Road on Monday.

Ricketts added: "The Easter period is so important because the games are back to back and you need to have good concentration levels.

"If you lose both, you're right in it, but if you win two on the bounce, suddenly everything looks very different. So we have to take our chances when they come. Kilburn Times

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