QPR v Soke at Loftus Road: LIVE

20 April 2013 03:33

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QPR boss Harry Redknapp is puzzled by criticism of Tony Pulis as he seeks to increase the pressure on the Stoke manager when their teams meet at Loftus Road.

Pulis has come under fire from his own supporters following the Potters' slide down the Barclays Premier League table that has left them just three points above the relegation zone.

Redknapp struggles to comprehend why Pulis, who until this season had been viewed as having done an exemplary job at the Britannia Stadium, is in the crosshairs.

"Absolutely the criticism he's had is unfair. He's done very well and has taken the club to another level," Redknapp said.

"They established themselves as a good mid-table Premier League club. They're a good club, well run with a good manager.

"They have had a blip and I'm sure Tony is finding out know who his friends are. People desert you at times like this.

"When confidence goes it can very hard to put your finger on why it's not there. You look for answers to what has happened and they're not easy to find."

Superstitious Redknapp abandoned his club suit last weekend in the hope of sparking a change in fortunes and in light of the 2-0 defeat at Everton he joked he will be "in the nude" at Loftus Road.

The result left QPR 10 points adrift of safety, a seemingly insurmountable gap that Redknapp accepts can only be bridged if they embark on a startling run of victories.

"While it's still possible we've got to keep believing and keep going. We've got five games left," he said.

"If we could win four and draw one - we all know it's a tall order but if it happens it may be enough to stay up.

"This season 37 points may be enough to keep you up, so we have to keep trying.

"We have to win tomorrow. And then we must win at Reading. Then we have to beat Newcastle and Arsenal, for sure.

"And then we have to get something at Liverpool. It's tough, but that's the dream and while it's still there we have to keep going.

"Achievement-wise doing that would be the best. You would love to be able to do that for the people who own the club. I find it so sad because they're lovely people."

QPR striker Bobby Zamora is suspended for the clash.

Shaun Wright-Phillips is out after undergoing ankle surgery, while Andrew Johnson is sidelined with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, Pulis is not shaken by the prospect of a nervy relegation battle.

The Potters are in danger at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League after winning just one of their last 14 games.

It is a new situation for the current squad, with the club having generally made positive strides since winning promotion to the top flight in 2008.

But Pulis, in a two-decade management career that has taken him through the divisions, feels he has enough experience to call on to handle the predicament.

Most notably, he remembers back to the first season of his first spell at the club, 2002/03, when safety in the second tier was unsure heading into the final game.

Pulis said: "If it means going right to the wire, it will go to the wire. It won't be the first time I have had to go there to get the job done.

"The first year, keeping the club up in the last game of the season against Reading was an enormous feat and an achievement that is underestimated by people.

"If we hadn't stayed up I'm not sure what position the club would have been in now. That was when the club was really on its knees and that was a massive game.

"But we are playing for bigger stakes now and we are desperately keen to stay in the Premier League."

Stoke winger Matthew Etherington remains doubtful for the trip.

Etherington missed last Sunday's defeat by Manchester United after suffering a back injury in the previous week's loss to Aston Villa.

Defender Marc Wilson (back/hamstring) is hopeful of returning while Pulis is hopeful "one or two players with niggles" will be fit.

Source: DSG

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