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Three To Watch: QPR (A)

As Reading face QPR in their opening game of the season, Jack Simpson takes a look at three players from the ‘fake hoops’ to keep an eye on.

Queens Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
This man scored against the Royals last season.
Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Alex Smithies

Reading fans will have a front row seat when Alex Smithies defends the goal in front of the travelling supporters. The former Huddersfield goalkeeper kept seven clean sheets in 46 appearances including one against Reading when QPR defeated the Royals 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium.

Now this may seem like an awful record particularly, as he conceded 66 goals in total - an average of around 1.43 per game. However it is arguable that Smithies won vital points for his team, just like Ali Al-Habsi for Reading last season.

This is mainly down his fantastic ability at saving penalties. The 27 year old saved four spot-kicks last season including two in one game, when QPR beat their West London rivals Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage. In total, Smithies’ penalty saves earned QPR four points without which Ian Holloway’s side would have been relegated on 49 points, demonstrating his importance to the team.

Furthermore, Smithies had an average claim success of 95%, so when Reading put balls into the area from crosses or from corners they’ll need to make sure that they give the 6ft 3in stopper something to think about.

Massimo Luongo

Luongo completed a transfer from S***don Town in July 2015 and plays in either centre midfield or just in front of the back four. He made a decent contribution last season with one goal and three assists in 35 Championship games.

The Australian international is known for his ability to break up the play and spearhead attacks for his team, a similar player to the now departed Danny Williams. His defensive play last season for QPR was very impressive as he made 70 clearances, 57 interceptions and five blocks - an average of three defensive actions per game.

Secondly, for a defensive midfielder Luongo’s 74% pass completion rate was also impressive, demonstrating his ability to keep hold of the ball in tight spaces which then alleviates pressure for his side.

All this, as well as winning 52% of his duels last season, means that the likes of John Swift and Liam Kelly could find it difficult in terms creating chances and supplying balls up to the likes of Jón Dadi Bödvarsson and Joseph Mendes.

Pawel Wszolek

The final player that Reading fans should keep an eye on is Pawel Wszolek. The 25-year-old completed a permanent transfer to QPR in January having spent the first half of the last campaign on loan from Italian side Verona.

He can play in a number of positions such as the left wing, right wing and as an attacking midfielder. Last season Wszolek scored three goals and got four assists and hit the back of the net against Reading in last season’s Loftus Road meeting.

Just like Luongo, Wszolek is an accomplished passer of the ball with a pass completion rate of 77%, but the versatile attacker should also provide an potential threat in attack with a 79% percent shot accuracy.

This will mean the likes of Jordan Obita or Tyler Blackett will have to do a good job at keeping this talented midfielder quiet, otherwise we could see a repeat of when Wszolek ripped Obita to shreds at the Madejski.

All stats from Squawka and WhoScored.