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Opposition Lowdown: Neil Critchley’s QPR

Reading return to league action with a home tie against QPR at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Queens Park Rangers v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images


Queens Park Rangers finished last season in 11th place in the Championship, having recorded 19 wins throughout the season. They currently sit mid-table in 12th position, one place ahead of Reading, despite being level on points.

At the halfway point of the season Rangers have seen 10 wins, 10 losses and six draws – with their home form mirroring their away form. Their recent form has been questionable, having included one win, two draws and two losses in their last five games. The two sides last faced each other back in October, when QPR beat The Royals 2-1 at Loftus Road after two goals from Lyndon Dykes, with the striker securing the win with a late penalty.

The boss

Neil Critchley: Critchley took over as QPR manager in December following Michael Beale’s departure to Rangers. This was the second time he replaced Beale in 2022 – having taken over his assistant manager role at Aston Villa in the summer, when Beale became QPR manager.

The 44-year old started his coaching career at Crewe before joining Liverpool in 2013 as a coach for the under-18s. He also coached their under-19 and under-23 sides in his seven years at the club. Critchley left Liverpool to take up his first full-time manager role at Blackpool in March 2020. He led The Tangerines to promotion from League One in his first full season at the club, beating Lincoln City in the playoffs after finishing in third place in the league.

Critchley led Blackpool to a 16th-place finish in his first season in the Championship, before joining Aston Villa as Steven Gerrard’s assistant last summer. The former midfielder is highly rated in the coaching world and likes his sides to play possession-based football.

Reading v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images


Defender Leon Balogun and midfielders Luke Amos and George Thomas have all been ruled out of this weekend’s clash through injury. However, defender Jake Clarke-Salter and captain Stefan Johansen could both return from injury for this weekend. Forward Jamal Lowe joined QPR on loan from Premier League Bournemouth during the week and could make his first start for the club.

Expected line-up

Dieng, Kakay, Dickie, Dunne, Paal, Iroegbunam, Field, Lowe, Chair, Willock, Dykes

Key player

Lyndon Dykes: Scottish striker Dykes joined QPR from Livingston in August 2020 for a reported fee of £2m. Born in Queensland, Dykes started his football career in Australia, having previously played Rugby League. He made his name in football up in Scotland where he started out at Queen of the South, making his debut in 2016. He went on to join Livingston in 2019, scoring 12 goals in his first season with the club.

Dykes secured a move to England in 2020, with Livingston securing a record transfer fee for his sale. He made his QPR debut in September that year, scoring 12 goals in his first season, topping the goalscoring charts for the club. Dykes is a full Scotland international who currently holds 25 caps for his country, with eight goals to his name.

Standing at 6ft2, Dykes is a physical striker who is strong in the air. He has scored six times for Rangers this season, including two against Reading earlier on this season.

One to watch

Chris Willock: Winger Willock joined QPR in October 2020, signing from Portuguese side Benfica. He started his career at Arsenal, joining their academy at the age of five and made his debut for the club in 2016. He only made two appearances for the club before securing a move to Benfica in 2017, where he made 64 appearances for their B team. Whilst with Benfica, Willock had loan spells back in England with Championship sides West Bromwich Albion and Huddersfield Town.

Willock joined QPR for a reported £750,000 in 2020 and has gone on to make 95 appearances for the club, scoring 16 goals. The 24-year old has represented England at every level from under-16 to under-20 and is the brother of Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock. He is an exciting winger who is a strong dribbler of the ball, effective at cutting inside.