QPR v Swansea, Wed 20:00
Mark Hughes will count himself lucky that Wolves and Wigan Athletic all face tough midweek matches against top half opposition this week but goes into a tough fixture of his own against Swansea City on Wednesday, as Betfred offer odds against on Brendan Rogers’s side taking all the points back to Wales.
QPR come across as heavy competition when you consider their victories over Liverpool and Arsenal in March but have looked weak in other appearances and will be hoping to strengthen their bid for Premier League survival when they welcome Swansea to Loftus Road.
The theory of ‘The Halo Effect’ reared its head again over the weekend when Manchester United were awarded a seemingly soft penalty against the Rs that resulted in Shaun Derry’s sending off.
Hughes stated his intent to appeal Derry’s red card immediately after the Old Trafford match and although the Welshman will have a certain affinity with Swansea, he will feel no remorse in beating the Welsh outfit on Wednesday as he looks to keep his team afloat.
Derry isn’t the only Hoops player set to miss the midweek clash through suspension, with Djibril Cissé also serving the last two games of a four-match ban.
The Hoops may also see Fitz Hall and Heidar Helguson return to the line-up in time for the match with the pair both racing for fitness. Mark Hughes could also hand a start to Bobby Zamora, after the ex Fulham man recovered from a virus.
The Swans were comfortably beaten by Newcastle over the weekend but with West Brom facing a very difficult battle at the Etihad Stadium, will see their midweek game as a window of opportunity to jump back into the race for a top half finish.
An away victory would see Swansea climb to 12th spot and depending on the results of others, even reveal the slightest glimmer of a Europa League tournament next season, although much of the talk in South Wales has been on Brendan Rogers’ side simply securing their Premiership survival and another year in the top flight next season.
Everton sit in seventh, just four points away from 12th position and while Rodgers may not be getting ahead of himself just yet, the possibility of Europa League football will undoubtedly be in his mind heading into these final weeks of the 2011-12 campaign.
The Swansea boss isn’t likely to see any players returning to fitness this week but will be confident before his trip to London nonetheless, as he could hand starts to Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham, who were rested in the defeat to Newcastle at the Liberty last week, while QPR manager will be hoping he can keep eleven players on the field, with seven red cards already this season.