Beale backs QPR defence to improve – but is prepared to make changes

QPR boss Mick Beale admits his change of system has been a difficult adjustment for centre-backs Jimmy Dunne and Rob Dickie – but has backed the pair to chalk up their first clean sheet of the season soon.

Rangers are yet to register a shut-out, with the team conceding goals earlier in the season due to sitting too deep at the back and now enjoying mixed success by playing a more aggressive higher line.

The system worked well in the wins against Watford and Hull but the defence struggled at times in first half at Swansea in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat in South Wales.

But Beale said he is confident a full week of training ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Huddersfield will help iron out any issues.

“We’ve gone from one extreme to the other if I’m honest, from sitting too deep to being too high and what I want is somewhere in between,” Beale said.

“The higher line is what I am encouraging, but they are going from a system under the last manager where it was a back three or a back five and we have taken one out and expect the full-backs to get high.

“All of a sudden Rob and Jimmy have gone from a five to a two and we are them asking them to hold a higher line. It’s not as easy as just clicking your fingers and putting (the system) in.

“They will get more confident the more they do it. It’s about working on how they read the opposition player on the ball.

“Do they need to drop or hold? Have we got good pressure on the ball so we can hold their line? Or has the centre midfielder got their head up (looking to pass), so they need to drop.

“All that takes a bit of time on the training pitch and a bit of communication from the line.

“You have to remember, Kenneth (Paal) was missing for two or three games with a slight problem, Ethan (Laird) has only been in the side for three or four games,

“So as a back four they have done all of their learning in the league and not on the training pitch.”

Beale acknowledged that the team have given up chances at the back due to the high line but remains confident it’s a style that will pay off in the long run.

“We haven’t had much time on the training pitch – when you look at our schedule it has been back-to-back games,” he said.

“We had a little bit of time pre-Watford and it did us the world of good in terms our shape and our distances.

“I know we have given up chances from the higher line but we have got a lot more off the back of it in an attacking sense.”

Dickie was substituted 15 minutes from time at Swansea, with new signing Leon Balogan coming for his debut.

And with Jake Clarke-Salter close to making a return following a hamstring injury Beale has not ruled out making changes.

“We have four excellent centre-halves here,” Beale said.

“It might be we go to a back three or there might be a different pairing from time to time, but we’ve got to build on all of that.

“I am delighted with how the team is coming on. When you go into a new club everyone wants to see a new manager bounce with a click of the fingers.

“I don’t want a new manager bounce – I just want the team to steadily improve each game together, and I think we are at the stage where our squad is getting stronger.”