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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Charlton Preview QPR Game: Charton's Pardew on De Canio "I like his style...impressed by what he's done so far"


Charlton Official Site - Pards - three points a must

Alan Pardew admits that only a win will do when he takes his team to Loftus Road to face London rivals Queens Park Rangers on Saturday (3pm).

The first five places in the league are out of Charlton's reach but sixth spot is still attainable for Pardew's side - just.

With only three games remaining this season, the Addicks currently sit in ninth place in the Championship, four points adrift of Crystal Palace, who hold sixth spot and the final play-off position.

That means that victory is pretty much essential for Charlton this weekend, although Pardew believes his men can take confidence from their last two games as they prepare for back-to-back away clashes against QPR and then Barnsley.

The Addicks earned an excellent 2-1 win at Plymouth Argyle in their last away fixture, despite being down to 10 men for the majority of the game when Nicky Weaver was shown a red card in the third minute for a handling the ball outside the penalty area.

And, even though Charlton were held to a 1-1 draw against Southampton at The Valley last weekend, Pardew took heart from the performance.

He said: "I thought we put in two great performances against Plymouth and Southampton. We just need to take that into our next two away games and there's no reason why we can't win them both.

"I'm not really concerned whether we're home or away. It's the end of the season and we have to win. It doesn't matter whether we're playing in Timbuktu or at home - we have to win because of our league position.

"Our away form has kept us in the hunt for promotion. Our home form has unfortunately been average and that's what has cost us this season. So lets home we can improve our away form over the next two away games, beat Coventry City at The Valley and then see where we are.

"We've got a fighting chance but we have to win to be in it on Saturday, it's as simple as that. The only thing we can do is win the games that remain. I don't expect anything less."

QPR have improved dramatically since the appointment of Italian Luigi De Canio as manager in December.

The arrival of the former Genoa boss has seen the R's move swiftly out of the relegation places and into a comfortable mid-table position.

Rangers have also only lost once in their last 11 games and are unbeaten in their last five at Loftus Road so Pardew is anticipating another tough match for his outfit.

"I've seen them play and they've got goals in them," he said. "It's always difficult to get a result at Loftus Road regardless of their form. They play it well, they knock it around and they mix their game up when they need to.

"They've got all the ingredients they need to be successful in the Championship and their run in the second half of the season has probably been as good as anyone else.

"I've not had any dealings with Luigi but I like his style and I've been impressed by what he's done so far. The big test for him will probably be next season. But he's building nice and gradually, and that's probably the way to do it.

"It's a London derby which should add a bit of spice, although it doesn't always work out like that. We've had some good London derbies this season, hopefully this will be another one."

Charlton's last encounter against Rangers was a bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat at The Valley when the West London side were bottom of the league.

And Pardew recalled: "We've had some home games that have been disappointing and that was one of them. We're certainly stronger now, but then so are they."

Pardew will be without Jerome Thomas for the clash with Rangers after the winger suffered a hamstring strain during training this week. Thomas' place on the substitutes' bench could be taken by Lloyd Sam, who is close to fitness following a hamstring problem of his own.

Sam has been absent since the 2-1 defeat to Preston in early March but has played in two reserve-team games since and could feature against the R's.

"I will field my strongest side," added Pardew. "Jerome Thomas has a slight hamstring strain and probably won't be involved. Sam Sodje has trained but won't be ready. Other than that, everyone else is fit apart from the long-term absentees...."

Charlton Official Site

Date: Thu 17 Apr 2008. Tom Harvey reports Queens Park Rangers v Charlton
The phrase 'must-win game' is often overused in football but Charlton head to Loftus Road on Saturday (3pm) in the knowledge that anything less than a victory could effectively end their hopes of landing a play-off place.

Saturday's 1-1 draw with struggling Southampton at The Valley means Charlton lie in ninth spot in the Championship table - four points adrift of sixth-placed Crystal Palace.

And with just three games remaining, Alan Pardew's men need to earn a second successive win on the road if they are maintain their slim hopes of snatching sixth position and extending their season for a few more weeks in May.

Andy Gray registered his first Charlton goal on Saturday, but Pardew was again left frustrated at his side's frailties in front of goal and the Addicks boss desperately needs his strikers to be on their game this weekend.

Speaking after the draw with the Saints, Pardew said: "Unfortunately this year, the second goal, the third goal and the fourth goal has been a problem for us at home. Our home form has cost us and is why we are in the position we are in now."

Charlton had made the worst possible start when goalkeeper Darren Randolph, in for the suspended Nicky Weaver, collided with Paddy McCarthy in making a routine catch and saw the ball squirm from his grasp and into the net.

"I felt that goal affected us in the first half," said Pardew. "It was such a poor goal to concede."

Pardew introduced Gray and Darren Ambrose at half-time and the move paid off with the former Burnley man getting his first goal for the Addicks in the 69th minute.

Both Ambrose and Thomas then had chances to win the game for Charlton but failed to take them and the result somewhat summed up the Addicks' home form this term.

Pardew added: "Our away form has probably been good enough to put us in the play-offs, and the way the points have gone this season, perhaps even in the automatic promotion spots as well.

"Our home form has been the problem; we've not really coped well with teams who have come here, and haven't dealt with their ferocity. We haven't got the goals and that will probably cost us."

Opposition news

Charlton fans may think the Addicks have endured a topsy-turvy season, but their campaign has been a comparative bed of roses compared to the upheavals at Queens Park Rangers.

After a poor start to the new term, John Gregory was sacked at the start of December with the club's new owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone intending to see QPR in the Premier League within the next four years.

Gregory's dismissal came after the R's were trounced 5-1 by West Bromwich Albion in front of the Sky Sports television cameras.

Assistant Mick Harford was then handed the reins, and the caretaker boss oversaw an upturn in fortunes, but left Loftus Road when Italian Luigi De Canio was named as the club's new manager.

The ex-Napoli and Siena coach, 50, signed a deal until 2010 at Loftus Road. De Canio had kept Siena in Serie A for two seasons before leaving last summer.

The arrival of De Canio, who has also managed Udinese, Reggina and Genoa, has seen the R's move swiftly away from the relegation places and into a safe mid-table position.

And with plenty of money to spend, the general consensus is that QPR could be making a bid for the title next season.

De Canio has been busy in the transfer market since arriving in West London, with no less than 10 players arriving since January, and even more departing.

Of those new faces, Akos Buzsaky stands out - the former Plymouth man pulls the strings in midfield and also chips in with a fair few goals.

The Hungarian playmaker has been sidelined for Rangers' last three matches after suffering an ankle injury while on international duty but has resumed light training and will step up his fitness bid ahead of the visit of the Addicks.

QPR have also been boosted by the news that the injuries which forced Dexter Blackstock and Patrick Agyemang out of the 1-1 draw at Hull City on Saturday are not serious.

Ex-Wimbledon striker Patrick Agyemang is enjoying a new lease of life since a £350,000 switch from Preston North End, hitting nine goals for the R's this season, while Blackstock has been a thorn in the side of several defences this term.

Blackstock, who opened the scoring against Hull with a dubious goal which appeared not to cross the line, came off with an ankle problem, while Agyemang was feeling slight hamstring trouble.

But Rangers physio Paul Hunter expects both players to be available for the visit of Charlton.

Past meetings

Pardew called his team's performance 'inept' after QPR - then bottom of the Championship - earned a 1-0 win against Charlton at The Valley in October.

Adam Bolder - now on loan at Sheffield Wednesday - got the only goal that day as the Addicks slumped to a third successive defeat.

Pardew said at the time: "QPR deserved to win, but on our part we put in an inept display. We didn't look like a good side. Our fans booed us off - quite right too. We weren't good enough."

There was a silver lining, however, in the shape of academy youth product Grant Basey, who was handed his full Charlton debut by the Valley boss.

Pardew said of the 18-year-old left-back: "He has been the only highlight of the day for us. He has been at the club since he was six and came from the club's community scheme so we're pleased with that."

It had been more than 18 years since QPR had beaten Charlton. The Addicks had previously won nine of the last 11 league clashes against Rangers, and the remaining two were draws.

Charlton's last trip to Loftus Road came in December 1999 when the two sides fought out a 0-0 Division One draw.

The first meeting between the teams was way back in the 1921/22 season when a crowd of 10,000 witnessed a 1-1 draw at The Valley in the (old) Division Three South. Arthur Whalley scored Charlton's goal that day.

Charlton team news

Pardew admitted after the draw with Southampton that he was planning to make changes to his side.

Gray is pushing to start after his strike against Southampton and could replace Chris Iwelumo alongside Leroy Lita up front if, as expected, Pardew sticks with a 4-4-2 formation.

Ambrose and Jerome Thomas will also be vying to return on the right with Zheng Zhi perhaps replacing Jose Semedo in the middle of the park.

Pardew had praise for Lee Cook on Saturday. The winger was a constant tormenter of the Saints' defence and is likely to start against his boyhood club and a team he spent nearly five years with.

Cook netted 11 goals in 140 games for Rangers before a £2.5m switch to Fulham in the summer and a subsequent loan move to SE7 in January.

Weaver is back from a one-match ban for his recent sending-off at Plymouth Argyle and is set to return in place of young Randolph.

Madjid Bougherra should keep his place in the centre of defence alongside McCarthy. Lloyd Sam is unlikely to be considered as he continues his recuperation from a hamstring injury, while Sam Sodje, Svetoslav Todorov, Izale McLeod and Chris Dickson all remain sidelined.


Charlton sold their initial allocation of 1,650 seats in the upper tier of the School End but were handed a further 1,400 seats in the lower tier. Latest figures show a total of 1,989 tickets have been sold, with the remainder on general sale until 3pm on Friday afternoon.

Those seats are available in person from the Valley Superstore and the Bexleyheath retail outlet, or by calling 0871 226 1905, priced £22 adults, £13 over 60s and U21s, and £8 U16s.

What's more, U8s can gain free admission, but must be accompanied by an adult. QPR may ask for proof of age at the turnstiles, and may refuse admission to anyone who is unable to do so.

Listen live: Full commentary on BBC London 774 Medium Wave and digital radio, Sky Channel 0152 and BBC Kent Digital Radio.

Opposition website: www.qpr.co.uk Charlton

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