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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ainsworth Looks Backs and Looks Forward...Blackstock and De Canio Look Forward...Rehman Speaks Out Against Racism

Gareth Ainsworth/Kilburn Times - Step on the Gaz
WE saw a bit of an upset this week at QPR - and I'm not talking about our win against Charlton.
Damien Delaney's the new king of go-karting - he took Rowly's title off him when the lads all went down to the track on Tuesday and he'll be the man to beat next time.
But nobody should think that means we're easing up as far as football goes. We've got two massive games left and we can still have a say at both ends of the table.
We're playing with a lot of freedom, producing some good football and enjoying it - and I think everyone could see the contrast between us and Charlton last Saturday.
To be honest we expected more from them, but as soon as we got a goal they seemed to crumble and they looked like they all had a weight on their shoulders.
Charlton didn't offer a lot, but we were pleased to keep a clean sheet all the same and I felt we were looking more comfortable in the last 10 minutes than we have done for a while.
I'm pleased for Dexter as well - suddenly he's found a purple patch at the end of what's been a tricky season for him.
Maybe people forget how young Dexter is - he's still only 21 and, because of the way he finished last season, expectations and pressure were higher this time.
It's also worth pointing out that a cartilage injury can take some time to come back from - and, in a funny way, what may have helped him is the birth of his son Ramirez.
You wouldn't think that sleepless nights are the best backdrop to playing football, but when you've got a family to look after it can focus your head better.
Like Charlton, Norwich will be the team feeling the pressure when we go there this weekend. Everyone felt they'd already done enough to stay up and I have to say it'd be a travesty if they went down on 52 points.
But there's no reason why we can't go there and make them sweat a bit.
I played with Dion Dublin years ago at Cambridge United and this is going to be his last home game at the end of a fantastic career, but we aren't going to lie down out of sentiment.
As well as Dion, we've got our old friend Jamie Cureton to contend with, so it'll be a good test for our back four, but I'm confident we can come through that and keep our unbeaten run going. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - Blackstock braced for a battle
QPR matchwinner Dexter Blackstock accepts he faces a fight to stay in the team next season despite his current rich vein of form.
Blackstock's goal against Charlton was the fourth time he has found the net in five games - his best scoring sequence since last season, when he headed Rangers' goal charts with 14.
With Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang out injured, Blackstock - still only 21 - is the only senior striker available for now, but knows that situation is almost certain to change during the close season.
He said: "Everyone wants to play for QPR at the moment and there's a lot of talk about money and the club going places with Flavio [Briatore] and Bernie [Ecclestone] behind us.
"The fans are seeing that. You can tell by the attendance against Charlton - over 17,000 - that the fans are coming back and getting excited about the future.
"That carries a lot more expectation, therefore better players have got to be brought into the club to take it forward.
"As a professional footballer, you have to accept players are going to come in and fight for your shirt.
"Everyone in our changing room wants to stay here and be part of what's ahead. We all want to achieve promotion in the long term and we'll need a big squad of players to do that.
"If I can get goals, then it's great to be helping the team perform and win games, that's the main thing."
The former Southampton forward was paired with 17-year-old Angelo Balanta, a product of Rangers' Centre of Excellence, on Saturday.
Balanta impressed in only his fourth start for the first team and Rs boss Luigi de Canio stressed afterwards that he plans to promote more players from the youth system long-term.
"Angelo's an excellent player," said De Canio. "He does want to learn and puts in a lot of effort. This has to go to the credit of the youth coaches who have worked with him.
"My dream is to have a QPR side in the Premier League with six or seven players in the squad who have come up through the youth set-up.
"We have just started on the project and the important thing is that we try and build gradually."
SATURDAY'S crowd of 17,035 was the biggest for a league game at Loftus Road in nearly three years.
Almost 18,000 watched Rangers beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 at the end of the 2004-05 season, but a hefty increase in ticket prices that summer led to a severe fall in attendances. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - Call for community action gets Zesh's vote
QPR'S Zesh Rehman has backed the Times campaign for Londoners to 'Get out and VOTE' in the capital's elections next week.
The Rangers defender is one of just four British Asian footballers plying their trade in the professional game and is a leading supporter of anti-racism programmes run by the FA and PFA.
Rehman told the Times: "Football is the perfect vehicle to unite communities, to help bridge the gap between communities and create more harmony.
"If you don't go out and use your vote, you could be helping to cause distress for the whole community. I believe it's important for everyone to vote."
Rehman, who grew up in Birmingham but plays international football for his parents' native country, Pakistan, has recently set up a website to provide support and advice for youngsters trying to forge a career in the sport.
Asked why so few Asians have broken into the professional ranks to date, the Rangers centre-back observed: "I think we're at the stage where black players were in the 70s, but there are different stereotypes to deal with now.
"There are pre-conceived ideas that maybe they're scared of the weather, or they have the wrong diet and aren't strong enough - and if those keep being repeated then they're less likely to get a fair start in the game.
"There aren't enough role models and, if you're a young lad growing up, you need to see those. People will ask you 'who do you want to be like?' and there aren't many answers to give.
"As one of only four Asian footballers in this country, I see it as my responsibility to try and give something back and make a difference - not just to Asian youngsters but everyone."

Along with QPR team-mate Damien Delaney, Rehman recently attended the launch of a video for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign at Westminster Academy.

The event was organised by Rangers' Football in the Community department and was also attended by former Rs striker Leroy Rosenior and ex-Wimbledon and Sheffield United boss Dave Bassett.

You can visit Rehman's website and read his blog at www.zeshrehman.com Kilburn Times

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