DONCASTER Rovers star James Coppinger is looking forward to testing himself against Queens Park Rangers - the stand-out team in the Championship this season.
Rangers will check in at the Keepmoat Stadium tomorrow seven points clear at the top - and ten ahead of third-placed Swansea - with just nine games to go and seemingly heading back to the top flight for the first time in 15 years.
Although a possible points deduction for a reported breach of FA regulations, could result in Rangers missing out on automatic promotion, Coppinger says that he would still fancy them to go up via the play-offs were that to happen.
“They’ve got a lot of experienced players who have played in the top flight and have won promotion with other clubs and know what you have to do to get up,” said Coppinger
“They’ve also got a manager in Neil Warnock who has proved that he can get a team promoted to the Premier League from this division.
“They have spent a lot of money in recent years and have the strength-in-depth needed to stay the course.
“Whilst some of the other leading sides have been dropping points recently, QPR have continued to win games - though their 2-0 defeat in their last away game at Millwall shows that they are beatable.”
Rangers handed Rovers a 3-0 beating when the two sides met at Loftus Road in September. But the score line didn’t reflect the game and the result could have been a lot closer had Martin Woods’ free-kick gone in instead of hitting the post and had James O’Connor’s goal bound effort not been cleared off the line.
Neither player will feature in tomorrow’s game, nor will leading scorer Billy Sharp, all of which adds to the pressure on the likes of Coppinger.
Always a gifted footballer on the ball, Coppinger’s biggest fault - and one that possibly put paid to his chances of playing in the top flight - was the lack of an end product on occasions.
But the former Newcastle United junior has worked hard on that aspect of his game: “I think I’m producing more of an end product now,” he said. “I was scoring quite a few goals earlier in the season and I’ve also helped set up a few goals.”
Few would argue that a fully-fit Coppinger firing on all cylinders is one of the finest sights in the Championship and he has fully played his part in earning Rovers their reputation as the ‘Arsenal of the Football League.’
“We’ve a reputation as a good footballing side but I don’t think that we’ve played as well as we have in our previous two seasons,” said Coppinger.
“But I don’t think that it is a case of teams knowing what we are about and have worked out a way to stop us playing - it is more down to injuries.
“I’ve never known a season like it and all the changes have had a disruptive affect on the team.
“We’ve not had a settled back-four all season - and that’s where a lot our moves start - and key midfielders have also missed a lot of games.”