Round-up: Knee problem keeps Hall sidelined

Grant Hall is set to miss QPR’s game against Nottingham Forest.

Rangers hoped Hall would return from a knee problem in time for the game at Loftus Road, where a win would guarantee their Championship status.

But his season is almost certainly over as he is still recovering from the injury and is also expected to miss the match at Norwich on the final day of the campaign.

Smithies wins awards

Alex Smithies has been named QPR’s player of the year.

The goalkeeper won the Supporters’ Player of the Year, Ray Jones Players’ Player of the Year and Junior Hoops Player of the Year awards.

Ryan Manning has won the Daphne Biggs Supporters’ Young Player of the Year award.

Holloway’s plea to fans

Ian Holloway has urged QPR fans to get behind their team in Saturday’s game against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest.

“The lads have lost a bit of confidence, and we need the crowd to help us,” manager Holloway told the club’s website.

“That’s all I’m asking – if you see the effort you demand, please keep on encouraging the players.

“If you don’t, you can hammer them and you can hammer me, because that’s not right.

“But I’m telling you, they’ll be at it – and they won’t let you down.”

Chelsea set to face Lukaku

Antonio Conte says he is well aware of the threat Romelu Lukaku will pose to Chelsea when the Everton striker faces his former club on Sunday.

Lukaku, who has been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge, has scored 25 goals this season.

He will come up against a Chelsea side that leads the Premier League table but has shown some of vulnerability at the back.

“Lukaku for sure is a really good player and is scoring a lot of goals. We must pay great attention,” said Blues boss Conte.

“As always, we study the opposition to try to find the best solution to stop them – single players and the team.”

‘Four or five’ good Chelsea prospects

Conte says Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup triumph showed they have players with real potential.

Conte watched alongside club owner Roman Abramovich as Chelsea won the trophy for the fourth season in a row, beating Manchester City in a one-sided second leg at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues boss was encouraged by what he saw but acknowledges it remains difficult for players at top clubs to make the step up from youth level.

“We watched the game together. It is always good to see Mr Abramovich and to see our team win for the fourth time in a row – it was good,” Conte said.

“In this team I saw four or five with good prospects for the future, but you know that it is not easy for them to be Chelsea players in the first team.

“Because of this gap, it is not simple, not only for Chelsea but also other teams. But we must be proud of our work in the academy.

“We have four players (in the first-team squad) from the academy in Nathan Ake, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina and I think this is great.”

Weather frustrates Middlesex

Half-centuries from Paul Stirling, John Simpson and James Franklin – plus some brilliant late hitting from Ryan Higgins – proved fruitless as bad weather prevented a result in the opening Royal London One-Day Cup match at Lord’s.

Stirling (71), Franklin (69), Simpson (82 not out) and Higgins (48 not out) propelled Middlesex to a challenging total of 341-5 in their 50 overs.

But the rain arrived with Sussex 26-1 from four overs in reply, meaning both teams take a point each.