DEAN’S AXED AS CAP­TAIN AS BEES TRI­UMPH

QPR man­ager’s in­jury fears over sched­ule

The Football League Paper - - JOHN RUDDY - By Sam Elliott

BRENT­FORD boss Dean Smith says he meant no dis­re­spect by rest­ing ten play­ers for the Carabao Cup first round as he re­vealed con­tract rebel Har­lee Dean has been stripped of the cap­taincy.

The Bees will play west London ri­vals QPR in the next round but needed ex­tra-time to beat AFC Wim­ble­don 3-1 on Tues­day.

Like other Cham­pi­onship man­agers, the vol­ume of play­ers given the night off was high but in the end he got away with sweep­ing changes.

The main fo­cus, though, was on a player re­called. Dean, 26, linked with Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, still hasn’t signed a new con­tract at Grif­fin Park. He has a year to run on his cur­rent deal.

Sus­pended for the open­ing day of the sea­son against Sh­effield United, the cen­tre-back has yet to com­ment on his fu­ture.

But boss Smith is happy to talk and said: “I had a chat with Har­lee when we started pre-sea­son but he’s in limbo at the mo­ment.

“He is in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions and while that is go­ing on I feel it is right that some­body else car­ries the arm­band. He is right be­hind that.

“I can tell you that there have been no bids, it’s only spec­u­la­tion. There’s been no bids for any of our play­ers in fact.

“His rep­re­sen­ta­tives have been in talks with the club, but I’m sure they have been pitch­ing him around to other clubs as well.

“But he is fully com­mit­ted to the cause. I have a good re­la­tion­ship with him and I hope that con­tin­ues.”

Re­gard­ing his team se­lec­tion against the Dons, Smith was frank.

“Au­gust is a re­ally long month, we now have seven games,” he said. “I didn’t mean to be in any way dis­re­spect­ful to the com­pe­ti­tion but we’ve got a deep squad and this was an op­por­tu­nity for them to get some game time and press their claim.”

QPR boss Ian Hol­loway has called for the Carabao Cup sched­ul­ing to be al­tered – to avoid in­juries to play­ers in the open­ing weeks of the sea­son. The R’s saw off the chal­lenge of League One side Northamp­ton Town with a 1-0 vic­tory in front of a mea­gre 4,317 fans at Lof­tus Road last Tues­day, cour­tesy of Yeni Ng­bakoto’s first half goal. It made it two wins from two for the west London out­fit fol­low­ing their im­pres­sive 2-0 open­ing day Cham­pi­onship suc­cess against last sea­son’s play-off fi­nal­ists Reading. How­ever, Hol­loway has reser­va­tions about the de­mands be­ing put on play­ers in the open­ing weeks of the sea­son. It was one of the rea­sons he made nine changes to his start­ing lineup against the Cob­blers. In his pro­gramme notes for the Northamp­ton tie, the former Black­pool boss said: “If we win, it’d mean seven fix­tures in the first four weeks of the sea­son. “In my opin­ion, I think the first round would be bet­ter if it was played as a pre-sea­son fix­ture. “It not be­ing so adds to congestion – it adds to in­juries. How can you not play for al­most two months, then have that many games in the first four weeks? It’s wrong, for me, but there you go.” It’s clearly a sub­ject ‘Ol­lie’ feels strongly about as he re­turned to the theme in the post-match Press con­fer­ence af­ter his much-changed side’s hard-fought vic­tory, which earned them a sec­ond round tie against neigh­bours Brent­ford. “For me, I would change the for­mat,” the 54-yearold in­sisted. “I would put this game as the very last of our pre­sea­son and have a clear week. I think it would make it an aw­ful lot eas­ier.

Night­mare

QPR have been writ­ten off by pun­dits and book­ies alike this sea­son, with some tip­ping them to drop into League One.

While the R’s splashed the cash in the past, they’re now liv­ing a more fru­gal ex­is­tence, while oth­ers – the likes of As­ton Villa, Mid­dles­brough and Wolves – do what they used to do.

Yet the ex­pe­ri­enced Hol­loway be­lieves that work-rate and ‘co-or­di­nated to­geth­er­ness’ can go a long way to mak­ing up for a lack of star sign­ings.

“Peo­ple can do and say what­ever they want,” he said. “It’s about us keep­ing work­ing.

“I’ve had it thrown back at me what I’ve said as a pun­dit. It’s all about prov­ing peo­ple wrong. The group needs to do that over and over again.

“What we have to do is fight to­gether and I saw that in abun­dance out there again tonight.

“I don’t care if it’s good, bad or ugly. We’re go­ing to be at­tempt­ing to take it on the chin what­ever hap­pens in­stead of what I’ve seen over a few years where cer­tain peo­ple just threw the towel in. This lot will not do that.

“It’s just two games and we ended both of them against ten men, we’ve had a lit­tle bit of luck.

“Am I get­ting car­ried away? Not in a mil­lion years. Am I happy with them? Yes, I am.”

“Now we’re go­ing to have seven or eight games in Au­gust, which is far too many. The big clubs wouldn’t dream of do­ing that, we’ve got to.

“Where’s the crowd? Where are we? All I’m say­ing is, do peo­ple lis­ten any­way? I just think com­mon-sense wise Northamp­ton the week be­fore would be a great fix­ture.

“What have we got com­ing up? It’s whoa, heavy congestion. In that time it’s a night­mare, but I’m glad we’re through.”

DE­CI­SION: Har­lee Dean

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

KEY MAN: Skip­per Ne­dum On­uoha was just one of two QPR play­ers to re­tain his place for the Carabao Cup tie and, in­sets, R’s boss Ian Hol­loway and the pal­try Lof­tus Road crowd for last Tues­day’s game

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