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  • By Yann Tear at Ashton Gate

QPR must still wonder about Nahki Wells - the one that got away

There are no guarantees in football.

But there are always plenty of what might have beens.

On a weekend when Rangers' own play-off hopes took another blow with a shock 3-1 home defeat to bottom of the table Peterborough United, it must have caused a few minds among the QPR faithful to wonder what direction their team would be travelling in had the prolific loan player of a couple of years ago still been around.

Boss Mark Warburton has proven front players in the ranks, of course, and they have all had their moments in taking Rangers into the play-off frame. Charlie Austin, Lyndon Dykes and Andre Gray have experience. But the goals have been fitful.

Nahki Wells, when he came to west London on loan from Burnley at the start of the 2018/19 season, was an instant hit. In his year and a half at the club, the 31-year-old Bermudan scored 24 times in 70 appearances - 16 of those as a sub.

The club wanted him to stay and he seemed a good fit. He clearly loved Loftus Road - or the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as it is now known. But it was Bristol City who came in and nabbed him for £5m in January 2020.

Wells must have a few regrets too, although he is too professional to say so. That is because he has struggled to make his mark in the West Country and now seems fourth choice as a striker under Nigel Pearson at Ashton Gate.

As it happens, he got a chance to come on early in Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Brom and scored a goal. An injury to City's main striker Antoine Semenyo gave him the opportunity to show again what he can do.

His finishing was as clinical as ever as he swept in an Andi Weimann cross, and we saw the damage he can do earlier in the season when he bagged a last-minute winner at Rangers against his former club.

But it was only his third goal of a fitful campaign and he still has only 19 goals to his name in 96 appearances. Not helped by the fact he has started a great many of those - 37- from the bench.

Wells has not captured the hearts of the City fans, though many understand the team might profit from trusting this natural finisher much more. He seems resigned to his role not on the periphery of a struggling team.

"It's been a really frustrating season personally," he said. "I've had to deal with adversity. I've had to deal with being a bit-part player this season and that happens in football.

"You do have to try and stay as focused as possible for moments like that. I don't want to be called on and not take those opportunities. The front three have done very well and I've just been a bit part.

"Today I felt I made a good impact. I've had a few more minutes and feel I've made an impact after coming on. Delighted to get a goal of course. Just frustrated it didn't get us three points."

City conceded an equaliser in injury time to rob Wells of a feelgood factor. It has been typical of the Robins' season these late-conceded goals.

"After taking the lead twice in the game, to then concede in that manner is very frustrating," he said.

"It's been the story of our season. It's something that we have to work hard on and try to avoid. It was a little bit amateurish to let them get out of the corner and go up the pitch for a sucker punch."


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