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31 January 2019

With players returning to training and Danny Fox and Leon Clarke joining the group, Gary Roberts says preparations for QPR have stepped up a notch.

  • Match Day Programme: Cover star Gary Roberts.
  • 34-year-old delighted to be joined in training by returning Robinson, Pilkington and Massey.
  • "Danny Fox is a great addition to the squad." - Gary Roberts.


With players returning to training from injuries this week, our cover star for Saturday's match day programme, Gary Roberts, says there’s been a real buzz around the training ground and the added competition will make him work to merit a place in Paul Cook’s team even more than ever.

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Antonee Robinson, Gavin Massey and Anthony Pilkington all returned to training this week, that must have been a big lift for all of the lads?

“Some of the injuries the lads here have picked up recently have been really bad so I feel for them, especially the likes of Crackers (Michael Jacobs), Powelly (Nick Powell) and Griggy (Will Grigg) who are back in the Championship and have missed games because of their injuries.

“Gavin Massey has had a terrible time of it after his great start to the season. He’s one of the fittest players we have, so it just goes to show you can have freak injuries sometimes and suffer because of them.

“Even though I’ve come back into the team it’s not nice to see them every day when they’re injured but I just try and keep as fit as I can, stay in the gym, eat well and have as much sleep as possible.

“The sessions this week have really lifted with having a few of those names back in the group and there was a real buzz about it because the tempo had risen with them coming back into training.

“Pilks, Gavin and Jedi (Antonee Robinson) came back this week and Foxy (Danny Fox) is a great addition to the squad too.

“He (Fox) has plenty of experience and a lovely left foot, so he’s great signing for us and probably what we needed. There’s a nice feeling amongst the camp now which helps the dressing room.”

By your own, and the manager’s admittance, you’ve featured a lot more than you expected to so far this season. How would you assess the campaign so far?

“I was really happy to sign for another year last summer even though I had opportunities to sign for other clubs. After the effort everyone put in last season, I always wanted to be part of the team heading into the Championship, whether that was to back the boys up or be first choice.

“It’s a long season and people get injured and suspended, so when my chance came earlier in the year against West Brom, it was important to be fit and available.

“I remember coming into that game and quickly realising again just how quick the Championship is. Since then I’ve been involved in a lot of good games, especially at the DW, and I’ve really enjoyed myself.

“Naturally we’d like more points at this stage of the season, we’ve had a good few wins when I’ve played, but I’m just another player who is fighting for his place in the team.

“It’s nice that some of my performances have merited me staying in the team, but a lot of people are back fit now so I’ll probably find it harder to find as many minutes as I did.”
It always seems to be such a positive environment at the training ground, what do you put that down to?

“There’s a good group of lads here and you know what makes them tick. I know how a lot of the players work and even though we have had a couple of bad defeats, the changing room is as strong as ever and the bodies we’ve got in over the window will hopefully make us stronger.

“Sometimes in football you get dressing rooms with different groups of players, but here it’s nothing like that. You can see that when we’re on the pitch, especially whenever we score goals. The togetherness at this club, right throughout building, is top class.”

As well as a good connection with your team mates, you’ve built up a brilliant relationship with Latics supporters, would you say you’ve had a point to prove with some people?

“Even when I was younger you’d look at the older lads and think they’re finished and they’re done, but it’s not like that here and if I just keep myself fit then I’m as valuable as anyone else.

“It was nice to get a couple of goals when I was playing so hopefully I won a few people over because I know it’s natural for supporters to be sceptical about older members of the squad like myself.

“I’ve had some great banter with fans on Twitter and I know it’s meant as affection, so I have a good laugh. When the fan got caught out a few weeks ago joking about my age, everyone reacted to it in a great way and that’s what it’s all about at a football club, being able to bounce off each other as players and supporters. We all want the same thing and that’s success for our club.”

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