QPR V Wigan at Loftus Road Stadium : Match Preview

07 April 2013 11:00
QPR V Wigan - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Redknapp: Samba will lead Wigan a merry dance

QPR manager Harry Redknapp expects normal service to resume for Christopher Samba in Sunday's critical Barclays Premier League relegation showdown with Wigan.

Samba gifted Fulham two goals in Monday night's 3-2 defeat at Craven Cottage, a result that has left Rangers seven points adrift of safety with seven matches remaining.

The Congo centre-back was involved in a spat with supporters on Twitter following his performance, but Redknapp insists it was a one-off.

"Samba had a nightmare to be fair, but he was absolutely brilliant when we won at Southampton," Redknapp said. "It was one of the best performances from a defender I've seen for years. He's a top player who could play for any side in the top four.

"He had a bad night against Fulham, but he's not the first defender I've seen make mistakes. On Sunday I'm sure we'll see the Samba we're used to seeing."

QPR's chances of escaping relegation look bleak following successive defeats to Aston Villa and Fulham, but Redknapp refuses to give up hope of masterminding survival.

"When I stop believing, the players will stop believing. If I send out the wrong message they'll down tools, thinking we've had it," he said.

"I don't feel we've had it. I couldn't tell you the pleasure keeping QPR up would give me. It would be fantastic. We have to keep going - we've got to beat Wigan. There's nothing else for it, we have to beat them.

"Nothing else but a win would be any good to us. We need to win and keep winning. We need to win four or five games - it's a tall order but not impossible.

"But if we don't win on Sunday we won't give up because there'll be six games left and we could still win all six. You don't give up, you have to keep going."

QPR will be without Shaun Wright-Phillips after ankle surgery ruled the former Manchester City winger out for the remainder of the season.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes the best is yet to come from Arouna Kone, but appreciates that may not be with the Latics.

In Wigan's dual battle to beat relegation from the Barclays Premier League and win the FA Cup, Kone has been a revelation of late.

Since returning from African Nations Cup duty in February, the Ivory Coast international has scored six goals in his last six appearances, with Wigan winning all the matches in which he has found the net.

Given the striker cost a reported #2.7million upon his arrival from Levante in August, that now appears to be money well spent.

Martinez could not be happier with Kone as he said: "We've been very impressed at how he has settled in this league.

"For any striker that comes into the Premier League it takes time for them to get to know the physicality and tempo of the game, but right away he adapted really well.

"We then lost him to the African Nations Cup for a long period, but since he has come back there's been this real feeling he has been making up for lost time.

"For me he's a sensational footballer, a very important player for us. I would say he has been invaluable for us.

"As a character he's very quiet, he has this interior calmness and an inner confidence that is quite impressive. On the pitch he has this knack of making the right decision when it comes to scoring a goal.

"He's experienced different environments, such as the German, Dutch and Spanish leagues, and to come into the British game now, it is probably at the right time of his career. Although he is enjoying the best moments of his career, the best is still to come."

Forward Callum McManaman is set to return from an ankle injury, while midfielder Fraser Fyvie is the only new addition to the casualty list with a knock Martinez claims will keep him out for seven to 10 days.

Source: PA