West London Sport

Holloway stands by late substitution of Smith

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Ian Holloway insisted he had little choice but to send Joel Lynch on as a striker in place of Matt Smith during QPR’s 1-1 draw against Derby.

The Rangers manager felt he needed to take off an exhausted Smith with a few minutes of the game at Loftus Road remaining.

With Ebere Eze having already been brought on and Holloway’s attacking options therefore limited, he once again deployed centre-back Lynch as a makeshift target man.

The change brought an angry response from some of the home fans.

After Massimo Luongo headed in an 87th-minute equaliser, Lynch missed a chance to win it for the R’s when he fired straight at keeper Scott Carson after being put through in injury time.

Holloway explained: “People’s eyebrows came up, but Matt was worn out. He was gone. So I’ve asked Lynchy to play up front and he almost won us the game.”

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Holloway hailed youngsters Paul Smyth and Eze following the game.

Smyth was lively throughout and fellow forward Eze caused Derby problems after coming on in the second half.

The pair are among a number of young players Rangers are keen to establish themselves at the club.

“We’ve got that sprinkling of stardust that QPR fans like, and they’re young at the minute,” Holloway said.

“They’ve got to come through, believe in themselves and impose themselves and I think Smythy did that.

“Ebere looked like he could do that as well and he’s got to do that more and more because he can make the difference.

“We’ve got the last quarter of the season left and I’ve got some wonderfully talented young lads. They’ve got to learn the game.

“It’s about getting the balance right, because you can’t just hit Matt Smith. You’ve (also) got to work it into a ball player like Ebere – and it’s got to be a bit more pretty and beautiful to find a player like him.

“Some of these young lads have already shown they’ve got bundles of ability.

“It’s now about getting them to believe in it and win us some games and get some more points.

“All can I ask of them is to keep going and they’ve done that.”

The result left Rangers 10 points clear of the Championship relegation zone.