“He can make a difference” – Marti Cifuentes backs Taylor Richards to step up for QPR in Ilias Chair’s absence

QPR head coach Marti Cifuentes has been impressed with Taylor Richards’ performances in training this week and has backed the midfielder to step up in the absence of Ilias Chair.

Creative midfielder Chair is suspended for Saturday’s game against Bristol City after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Rotherham United.

Richards has started just two games for QPR since signing on an initial loan deal from Brighton in July 2022.

The 22-year-old was regularly left out of the matchday squad under Cifuentes’ predecessor Gareth Ainsworth, but he came off the bench to play just under half an hour at Rotherham and has caught the eye of his new boss.

“I’m not looking back at what happened before,” said the 41-year-old Spaniard when asked about Richards. “What I see is a player that has the desire to show he has extreme quality on the ball.

“This week in training he has been really good and that’s encouraging because we know about his quality. He has the capacity to change the game, as Ilias does.

“He is taking steps out of possession; he is improving his capacity to counter-press and his capacity to work for the team as well.

“We know that when he has the ball he has this dribbling capacity and passing skills. If we can get the best out of him, he is definitely a player that can make a difference in a Championship game.”

Chair scored the first goal of Cifuentes’ QPR reign at the New York Stadium but will miss the maiden game at Loftus Road under the new head coach after he was booked in the first half for kicking the ball away as Rotherham tried to take a free-kick.

Rangers are the second-lowest scorers in the Championship having found the net just 11 times so far this season.

Cifuentes restored Chris Willock to the starting line-up at Rotherham after he too fell out of favour under Ainsworth, and the former Hammarby boss is hoping he can help the Arsenal academy graduate re-discover the form that saw him score six goals in nine games at the start of last season.

“Chris is an important player for us,” he said. “It’s my job to try and get the best out of him and try to get him back to the levels he can deliver in this league. If he does, he will be a very important player.

“But we have other players as well. my job is to get the best out of the players, to use them in the best way and in the right moments of the games, and in that sense, it is about having trust in the players to perform at a good level.”

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