QPR boss Warburton backs Willock and Thomas

QPR boss Mark Warburton has backed Chris Willock and George Thomas to play key roles in the team next season.

Rangers have put together a superb second half of the campaign, winning 11 and losing just five of their past 19 matches since slumping to a 2-0 defeat against Swansea on Boxing Day – a result that saw them sink to 19th spot on the table, just four points outside the drop zone.

While loanees Charlie Austin, Sam Field, Stefan Johansen and Jordy de Wijs have all played significant parts in helping Rangers accumulate 36 points since that dispiriting loss to the Swans, Warburton said he’s excited to see what Willock and Thomas can do next season after their first full seasons with a Championship club.

Both players made key contributions in the 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, with Willock, 23, making huge strides forward in his development over the last three months and Thomas, who turned 24 last month, impressing from off the bench in recent games after an injury-hit first season following his move from Leicester last summer.

“He (Thomas) will be better for this season,” Warburton predicted.

“It has been frustrating for him, but very often players are better in their second season when they are more accustomed to it and have a good pre-season.

“I am excited to see George in the remaining games, and next season of course. He is a player that deserves a lot of respect.

“Chrissy has so much ability, he just has to realise how he can impact a game of football, the areas to pick up and where he can hurt the opposition from.

“He is a dangerous player and touch wood he will get better and better.”

Warburton also backed Macauley Bonne to show improvements next season. with the former Leyton Orient man struggling to break into the side following his move from from League One side Charlton in September.

“When you go up a level there is always going to be people fighting for the shirt,” Warburton said.

“When you play a lower level you can be the star man, the big fish in the smaller pond, and being picked every week whether you have a good or a bad game.

“Macca has earned the right to play at a much higher level and obviously Charlie (Austin) wants his shirt or Lyndon wants his shirt but the last two games we have played two behind and one (striker) up top.

“Young Charlie Kelman is another that has been working hard and wants to start.”

Warburton insisted he will demand his players to finish as high as possible this season and try to take that momentum into next season and make a concerted push for the top six.

“We will work hard in pre-season try and add one or two in quality areas if we can,” he said.

“We are never going to be spending £5-6m on a player, but if we can find some quality, use the loan market wisely as we have done in January we will be in a good position.

“I don’t want to be down in the bottom half fighting relegation. I want us to keep evolving, keep building the belief and desire and see where it takes us.”