Experience will be crucial to QPR promotion push, says Warburton

QPR boss Mark Warburton believes his squad boasts the necessary experience to remain in the hunt for promotion after securing the signing of Jeff Hendrick in the late hours of the transfer window on Monday.

Midfielder Hendrick, who joined on loan from Newcastle until the end of the season, marked his 30th birthday with a move to west London and arrives with a background of playing in big games, having won 68 caps for the Republic of Ireland and made over 150 Premier League appearances with Burnley and Newcastle.

The Dubliner, who started in all four matches of Ireland’s Euro 16 campaign, helping his nation reach the last 16 thanks to a memorable 1-0 win over Italy, bolsters a Rangers squad that already contains six players that have previously won promotion from the Championship in Charlie Austin, Moses Odubajo, Stefan Johansen, Albert Adomah, David Marshall and Andre Gray.

Austin, Johansen, Gray and Adomah have twice been part of squads that have gone up with Marshall and Odubajo playing significant roles in helping Cardiff and Hull respectively reach the top flight.

Warburton feels that know-how was something his Brentford side lacked when they finished fifth in the 2014-15 Championship season and lost to Middlesbrough in the play-offs.

“We went there (to the play-offs) but we lacked some seniority as we had a lot of young players in that squad,” Warburton said.

“We had the likes of of a young Harlee Dean, a young James Tarkowski, a young Moses (Odubajo) and a young Andre Gray.

“We only had Jonathan Douglas and Tony Craig really and although we didn’t lack leaders, it was the experience in how to deal with a play-off situation that hurt us.

“As well as the likes of Charlie, Stef, Albert with his background we have Lee Wallace who has those Old Firm games behind him.

“All of these guys have valuable experience to pass on to our younger guys in how to deal with these high-pressured situations.

“Our job now is to make sure we put ourselves in the situation to deal with those big games and make sure we enjoy being in there and push as hard as we possibly can.

“I would never underestimate the importance of seniority in a squad.”

Rangers sit in fourth spot, two points behind second-placed Blackburn with a game in hand, and only face one team currently in the top half of the table in their next five fixtures when Middlesbrough visit on February 9.

That match precedes a trip to bottom club Barnsley, an away game at mid-table Millwall, before back-to-back home fixtures against Hull and Blackpool before the team head to Lancashire for a crunch clash at Blackburn on February 26.

However, Warburton insisted it is dangerous to take anything for granted in a league where shock results are the norm rather than the exception.

“In the last two weeks, results have shown how tough this league is,” he said.

“Hull beat Blackburn then won away at Bournemouth, bottom can often beat top in this division and no-one blinks.

“Everyone looked at West Brom at home to Preston the other day and said ‘That is a nailed-on banker’. They then lose 2-0 and it could have been three – that is the Championship.

“I read people saying we have a good run of games coming up. But there are no easy games and we face some very difficult opponents.”