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  • By Julian Taylor at the Kiyan Prince Foundation

Warburton: Dykes’s cleverness and work rate was outstanding

As curtain-raising afternoons go, this was in the highly satisfactory category for Queens Park Rangers. “Great” even, according to Mark Warburton.

Opening their account with a 2-0 victory over last season’s Premier League promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest was particularly sweet on a number of levels.

That a reshaped squad gained three points against a very dangerous opponent. Promising starts for new signings. A debut goal for hit man Lyndon Dykes, who already has the look of a player feeling at home. And for R’s boss Warburton, you suspect a little personal segment of vindication against his former club.

Following a fairly even first half, Dykes blasted home a 54th minute penalty to break the deadlock, and while Forest were certainly guilty of profligacy – the normally clinical Lewis Grabban, for instance, missed three great chances – a second goal arrived for QPR in stoppage time, through Ilias Chair to seal success.

Therefore, a decent afternoon for Warburton in the west London late summer sunshine.

Of course, it was a pity there were no QPR fans able to attend and witness these shoots of early progress, due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19 – but the hosts will clearly gain confidence from results like this going forward into a new campaign. Further victories of similar stature should certainly elevate the club to a much better position that last term’s 14th place.

Warburton paid tribute to Dykes – the £2mIllion striker who is currently on the crest of a wave with his big move from Livingston in the Scottish Premiership as well as making his Scotland international debut. The initial signs are very encouraging for the Australian-born player Warburton had been chasing, via his connections north of the border.

“Lyndon Dykes, the work rate from him today was outstanding,” said Warburton.

“Again, the physicality, the cleverness in his play was fantastic. He gave us a good outlet up front.

“You look at him first at Queen of the South, then look at him for Livingston scoring goals for one of the smaller teams in Scotland, coming up against Rangers and Celtic and really troubling high-quality centre-halves.

“We spoke here about what he could bring and you saw what he can offer in both penalty boxes. His work ethic is outstanding, he can link up play and has an eye for goal.

“Teams became aware of him but we moved swiftly and got the deal done. I think it’s a fantastic piece of business by the club."

Overall, Warburton exuded the air of a man pleased with how his team more than measured up against Sabri Lamouchi’s outfit.

He added: “We had to show a lot of commitment, togetherness and quality, as well as making sure we stuck to the game plan which the players did well. We looked good all afternoon so I am really pleased with the performance.

“All over the park we were great today, I am missing no one out, there were a lot of really talented performances. We knew they (Forest) would come with a point to prove.”

Meanwhile, Warburton was at pains to express that there was “nothing derogatory” about leaving out Ryan Manning from the starting line-up. The Irishman is on the radar of a number of clubs in this transfer window and the R’s boss had insisted pre-match that he only wanted a fully committed unit as his starting 11. In any case, Lee Wallace was on hand to feature at left back and performed well.

Manning was omitted due to ongoing contract talks and Warburton refused to confirm if he would play in the coming weeks. Like Bright Osayi-Samuel, who was selected, the QPR chief hopes two of his star men will not leave for free with their deals expiring at the end of this season.

“I want to make sure players are focused on their game,” insisted Warburton. “There’s nothing derogatory or negative about Ryan, who trains exceptionally well and he’s a great lad.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Ryan and I talk to him all the time. There’s no doubting the quality of Ryan Manning. It’s just that many clubs have seen players walk away at the end of their contract with no value to the club.

“What we have to do is make sure that we see value. It’s about players committing to the club. QPR – and Ryan will appreciate this – has got to look after itself as a club.”

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