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Friday, September 26, 2008

Snippets: De Canio and other Ex-QPR Birthdays...More Praise for Damion Stewart...QPR vs Wolves on TV


- Kenny Sansom Turns 50 - Stats-

- Ex-QPR Loan, Martin Cranie, Turns 22 - Stats

- And apparently also...Luigi De Canio, Turning 51- "1957: Luigi De Canio (51) – Former Udinese, Napoli, Reggina and Siena coach, who most recently had a spell at English Championship side Queens Park Rangers. - Goal.com

Dave McIntyre - BBC 606 - Stewart on a roll
Damion Stewart is the man of the moment, defying expectations by holding down a place in the QPR team and winning praise for his recent performances.
Given the amount of money splashed out by Rangers and the number of players signed in 2008, it’s a surprise to many that Stewart is still at the club, let alone in the side.
Some people, myself included, believed he was the first player who ought to be axed and simply had to be replaced if Rangers were to stand any chance at all of being serious promotion contenders.
Kaspars Gorkss, outstanding for Blackpool last season, looked the ideal replacement – the kind of dominant, footballing centre-back Rangers have desperately needed.
But, short of match fitness after a pre-season ruined by the wrangling over his transfer, Gorkss made a woeful start to his R’s career.
He now faces a fight to establish himself, while Stewart is flavour of the month and is set to keep his place alongside Fitz Hall for Saturday’s game against Derby.
But the real test of Stewart is perhaps yet to come.
He has always been a good athlete; quick, strong and good in the air, and with those attributes, it’s understandable that successive managers have selected him.
He can, and has, had games and spells in a season where he’s able to put these assets to good use.
Some games just pan out in a way that means Stewart can head and tackle his way to rave reviews about his performance. Nothing’s changed in that respect.
But what has definitely improved is his concentration.
Gigi De Canio was convinced Stewart would be a competent defender if he maintained his concentration level for 90 minutes.
Even during a spell towards the end of the 2006-07 season, when Stewart was receiving much praise for his performances, he cost Rangers several points during their relegation battle by being found wanting in various situations, often at set-pieces and often late in games.
This season he has improved in this department and to see the job through against a forward like Aston Villa’s John Carew is a big achievement.
A few days before Rangers’ cup win at Villa Park, I saw Carew destroy West Brom’s defence and Leon Barnett, a centre-back who many in the game feel has real potential, was embarrassed by the big Norwegian.
But in many ways, a physical battle with the likes of Carew and a side peppering Rangers with crosses is right up Stewart’s street.
So too have been the recent away games in which QPR have had a man sent off.
Being reduced to 10 men at Bristol City and Norwich in a way helped Rangers, because it made those games less open.
It was a case of all hands to the pump, with Mikele Leigertwood and Gavin Mahon digging in and shielding the backline.
In more open games, as even 10-man Southampton recently showed, Rangers are more vulnerable and the centre of their defence still looks very poor.
Expect several Championships sides – including Derby this weekend – to focus on trying to isolate Stewart and force him to make decisions in a way he hasn’t had to in recent matches.
Balls into the channel can trouble him, especially when Damien Delaney surges forward.
And while he copes when the game is played out in straight lines, Stewart has all-too often been guilty of ball-watching or been far too easily turned in certain situations.
Those are the situations the likes of Derby, Birmingham and Reading will look to put him in in the coming weeks.
If he passes those kinds of tests, then even his fiercest critics will have to eat their words. BBC 606

The R's Coca Cola Championship fixture at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers has been selected for live Sky Sports transmission.
The fixture on Saturday 6th December will now kick-off at 5.20pm. QPR

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