There is “no doubt” that Stefan Johansen and Jeff Hendrick will play alongside each other for QPR this season, according to manager Mark Warburton.
Johansen was left on the bench, but Warburton insisted the Norwegian will be a key player during the run-in to the season.
“Jeff hasn’t played much football. He’s come out from Newcastle and it shows his quality and his character that he wants to come out and play football,” Warburton said.
“You don’t have his CV, you don’t have 180-odd Premier League appearances, 350 games and 70 caps for Ireland, without being a top quality player.
“He needed games to get fit so we’ve got minutes into his legs against the likes of Peterborough, Middlesbrough and Barnsley. That was the first 90, so I’m delighted for him.
“You can absolutely see him and Stef – to have 70 caps for Ireland and Norway’s ex-captain playing in midfield with their desire to do well for the club.
“There’s no doubt that they will play together but Sam Field will have something to say about that, as will Luke Amos and Dom Ball.”
Warburton said that the decision to take the QPR captain out of the team was not taken lightly but felt Johansen needed a break.
“It was a big call on Stef but sometimes they need a recharge,” Warburton added.
“He’s such an important player and the influence he has on the squad is a calming influence. He’s been there, he’s done
“The last 10 games of the season is the business end. That’s when you get success or you don’t so we need to have our best players and pivotal players ready for that run in.
“I think – I hope – I’m making the right call on that one.”