Hughes: Our tricky run-in could help us


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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes said yesterday that QPR's difficult Premier League run-in could actually work in their favour. Rangers, who are third from bottom, appear to have the hardest fixture list of the relegation-threatened sides, as seven of their final 10 matches are against sides in the top eight.

Hughes refused to shy away from the difficulty of the task but said his side could benefit from being the underdogs, starting in tomorrow night's meeting with Liverpool.

"It's not easy," Hughes said. "We make no bones about that. It's a difficult run-in. Maybe, going into those games, the pressure is off somewhat, bizarrely. We're not expected to win. We can use that as a positive and hopefully gain from that."

"There are going to be twists and turns. We know each game is going to be crucial, irrespective of the opposition. It's really key we perform at our maximum. If we do that, certainly in our home games, we can take on anybody."

QPR recruited Hughes to keep them in the Premier League after sacking Neil Warnock. But after a brief bounce they have lost five and drawn two of their last seven games in all competitions.

"It's been frustrating," Hughes said of his 10 matches in charge. "We haven't helped ourselves on some occasions and, on other occasions, circumstances have gone against us. But we're still very, very confident that we have enough ability to make sure that we're still in the Premier League next year.

"It's going to take hard work and we're not going to stick our heads in the sand and think otherwise. But we've got enough quality to score enough goals and defend our goal as well. That gives me confidence that we'll get points on the board.

"We just need a fair crack of the whip. If we perform as we know we can, at our maximum, and we get that element of luck that you have to have to be successful then we'll be fine. But it needs to start quickly and it needs to start against Liverpool."

Rangers will have had 11 days to reflect on a controversial defeat at Bolton Wanderers by the time they face Liverpool. Hughes was asked if he had tried anything different in the interim. "Why would I do that?" he said. "I've been doing this for 10 years now. I know what works at the Premier League level, so it's not a case of swapping things around or trying to change things I know work."

Hughes had good news on the injury front, with DJ Campbell back in training and set to return early next month. Heidar Helguson, who has been out for almost two months with a groin problem, could also be back soon.

"We're hoping to get the green light from his surgeon," Hughes said, "because he feels really good, feels he can step up his rehab. Hopefully, we can get him involved and do some more functional work for the next couple weeks and then he should be back."

Adel Taarabt could play against Liverpool after a hamstring strain.