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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gregory: No Player Contracts Till Status Determined...Cullip Injury...Furlong's Future

All from Kilburn Times

Kilburn Times - Contract talks on hold at the moment

JOHN Gregory insists the club will hold no discussions about contracts for next season until QPR have clinched their Championship status.

Eleven members of Rangers' first-team squad will be out of contract in the summer, including skipper Marcus Bignot, Marc Bircham, Steve Lomas, Paul Furlong and Marc Nygaard.

The Rs' boss - whose current deal also runs out at the end of the season -admitted: "We've not discussed anything with any of them as we still don't know what the future holds.

"To be perfectly honest, although my thoughts have turned to next season from time to time, I can't really look any further than what we have to do at the moment.

"So until we get across the finishing line, we won't be looking at next season. Our only thoughts at the moment are staying up - we're all fighting for our futures."

Gregory will be without Inigo Idiakez for Rangers' three remaining games after Southampton recalled the Spanish midfielder from his loan spell on Monday.

Defender Danny Cullip is expected to miss Saturday's clash with Cardiff after he limped off at Sunderland with a hamstring injury, so Michael Mancienne is in line to partner Damion Stewart in central defence" Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times -No final Furlong as yet

PAUL Furlong has reiterated that he wants to stay at QPR next season - even though he will turn 39 in October.

The evergreen striker is one of several Rangers players whose contracts run out in the summer and, with the club's status still uncertain, the issue of new deals has not yet been discussed.

After injury ruined the first half of his season, Furlong has returned to play a key role in the Rs' battle against relegation - notably with a last-gasp winner in the recent Easter clash against Luton.

A player-coaching role was mooted for the experienced forward at the end of last season and it is believed that Rangers are considering reviving that proposal for the 2007-08 campaign.

"I've no idea what the club are thinking at the moment, but I'm just going with the flow," Furlong told the Times. "I always said I wanted to play until I was 38, so it's all a bonus for me at the moment.

"I've made a lot of friends at QPR and we've enjoyed some great days during the time I've been here, so it'd be nice to carry on at Loftus Road next season.

"Coaching is something I want to do in the future, but I believe in my ability and I think I can still contribute as a player too. I work hard on the training ground and I've tried to look after myself, which has stood me in good stead.

"I'd like to play every week, but there are a lot of strikers at the club and sometimes there has to be a bit of rotation, which I understand - it's up to the manager."

Furlong, who joined QPR from Birmingham in 2002, was disappointed by the amount of playing time John Gregory put his way when he initially regained fitness over the Christmas period.

The striker forced his way back into Gregory's plans, scoring in the 2-1 defeat at Ipswich, but was still waiting to add to that tally when he won a penalty against West Brom at the end of last month.

To the horror of a packed Loft, Furlong's spot-kick was saved by Baggies goalkeeper Dean Kiely and the visitors went on to win the game 2-1, a result that left QPR under severe pressure.

"It was one of those things. I thought I made good contact with the ball but it was a good save from the keeper," Furlong recalled. "It didn't get to me too much though - I'm a bit long in the tooth for that."

His response was nothing less than you might expect from so seasoned a professional, helping Rangers to a crucial win at Coventry before coming on to head home a Steve Lomas cross in the final minute against Luton.

"I didn't feel any tension at the time, but I do remember the ground was very quiet when I made contact with the ball," said Furlong.

"It seemed to take a while to go in, then I saw it in the net and that was a great feeling.

"The game was such a massive one and we've had last-minute goals go in against us a few times, so it was nice that it went our way when we really needed it."

Furlong has so often been there when Rangers really needed it - the play-off semi-final against Oldham in 2003 and numerous occasions during the promotion campaign the following year spring to mind.

If they want him to be there again next season, Furlong is someone you would still bank on to justify that faith. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky - Kilburn Times - In the home straight

ADAM Bolder is urging the Loftus Road crowd to haul QPR over the finishing line when they take on Cardiff this weekend.

Victory for Rangers would raise their points total to 52 and almost certainly guarantee them a place in the Championship next season.

And, although their run of three straight wins was ended by title-chasing Sunderland last Saturday, Bolder insists the team's self-belief has not been shaken.

"If we'd been beaten 4-0 or 5-0, it'd be different, but this isn't going to wreck our confidence - we've been on a good run and we have to pick ourselves up for Cardiff," said the combative midfielder.

"We've got no-one to fear at home - it doesn't matter who we're playing if we've got our crowd behind us and I don't think anyone likes coming to our ground.

"Sometimes people probably don't realise how important the crowd are and at home they're a massive influence for us. You saw that when we went 2-1 down against Luton last week.

"To give you that kind of support when you're losing to a team that's bottom of the league is ridiculous - but they're part of the reason we got back into the game.

"I'd played against QPR before, but I don't think you realise how good the supporters are until you're playing for them - it's so enclosed at Loftus Road and the noise they make is brilliant.

"Since I got here the priority has been to stay in the Championship - fingers crossed, we can do that and I hope the fans will keep supporting us and help us have a good go next year."

Rangers are aiming to complete their second league double of the season on Saturday, having triumphed at Ninian Park back in November thanks to a late Ray Jones goal.

The Bluebirds were top of the Championship at that stage, but have fallen away and need a victory on Saturday to retain any realistic chance of reaching the play-offs.

But Dave Jones' team still represent formidable opponents, particularly with the league's joint top goalscorer, Michael Chopra, leading their front line.

Bolder added: "Cardiff are a decent side and we won't underestimate a team of their ability, because they're in the top half of the league for a reason.

"But if we go about our business properly, we can take the three points. We're looking to pick up as many points as we can between now and the end of the season.

"It's not just a case of thinking we need one win, or hoping this team or that team lose. We're not aiming to finish fourth bottom - we want to be pushing the teams above us. Kilburn Times

Ainsworth Column /Kilburn Times
JAMIE Cureton didn't have the best of times when he was playing for QPR, but he's certainly doing the business for us now!

I know a few of the lads are still in touch with Curo and we all ought to thank him for the way he's been turning the screw on the other teams near the bottom.

His equaliser against Hull - following on from a hat-trick at Southend and the winner against Leeds - confirmed that he's a big asset not just to Colchester, but to us as well.

I'm sure getting a run in the team alongside a big man has made a real difference to him and I hope he finishes the season as top scorer in the Championship.

The main threat, of course, is Michael Chopra, who will be leading the line for Cardiff at Loftus Road this weekend.

Chopra's a man in form, but so is Dexter Blackstock, who's firing on all cylinders at the moment and my money would be on Dex for another goal in Saturday's game.

He won the penalty against Sunderland and we could have sneaked a draw, but they were the better side on the day, to be fair.

I'm confident we're going to be OK this season, but we all want to put it to bed as soon as possible and we'll do that if we beat Cardiff.

They've still got an outside chance of making the play-offs, so they'll have to go for the win too and that could make it an interesting game.

You could argue that a draw would be a reasonable result, but I don't believe you can ever go out with that aim. We've been on a roll recently and I think we have a good chance of beating them.

When we beat Cardiff at Ninian Park they were top of the table, but I have to say I'm not surprised they couldn't sustain their excellent start.

I know there's a bit of history between QPR and Cardiff, but they're still one of my former clubs and I'm sorry that it looks like they're going to miss out. They're a big club with massive support and I've got proud memories of my time with them.

Hopefully it'll be the QPR fans who are celebrating on Saturday night and I want to be part of that - plaster cast or no plaster cast.

I'm not someone who can sit around doing nothing and I'm bored with daytime telly already. My girlfriend's got two babies to look after now - one a few months old and one who's 33!

I can't wait to hit the gym and start getting in shape for the start of next season - in the Championship Kilburn Times

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