• By Yann Tear

Chair making great progress but still a year away from hitting best form, says QPR boss


Mark Warburton believes Ilias Chair’s stock is continuing to rise – but that we are still a year away from seeing him really start to fulfil his potential.

The Rangers playmaker was the standout figure in Tuesday evening’s drab 0-0 draw with Stoke City at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.

The R’s only managed two shots on target all night and failed to make a very strong case for claiming all three points, but an inability to find the net was not for the want of trying on the part of Chair.

The 23-year-old Moroccan was always willing to take on players, look for openings and try his luck from distance and he was one of the bright spots in an otherwise colourless contest.

“Ilias loves the game, I was happy with him,” said QPR boss Warburton.

“He and Bright [Osayi-Samuel] are young players learning the game. Ilias, sometimes in his enthusiasm to get the ball drops deep and as a defender you want him as far away from your goal as possible – so the deeper he drops, the happier they are.

“He has to learn where he can hurt them, where he can impact them, but that’s part and parcel of learning the game.

“But I think he’s getting better, almost week on week. He’s shown his qualities and enthusiasm and I think in a year’s time he’s going to be a very, very talented boy. He’s just got to keep on learning and working hard.”

Warburton thought the point, while not ideal in front of fans taking advantage of one last game before a Tier 3 lockdown, was decent in the context of a below-par run of results.

“You are pleased with a clean sheet, for obvious reasons, but disappointed because you are in front of your fans and you always want to win your home games,” said the Hoops’ boss.

“You sound really weak as a manager when you say ‘luck’s not going our way’ but against Reading we could easily have won the game 1-0 and it was the reverse result. What we have to do is build, and show character and mettle, and we did that, which is really, really important.

“I think we started the game really well, the first 15-20 minutes, but to be fair to Stoke, they started the second half in the same fashion. We were chasing shadows for the first 15 minutes.

They had good presence, good players with a lot experience, but we stood up as a team, and then we came back into the game and started to stretch them down the sides through Chris Willock and Ilias.

I was pleased with the character they showed in that last half an hour. We finished the game strongly. But it was a game of few chances.

“It was one of those games where it was very hard to break down the defences, but after the disappointing run [we’ve had] it’s a big point. Now we have to build for the weekend.”