QPR coach Mark Warburton
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
QPR manager Mark Warburton has voiced his support for Steve Bruce, who called on Friday for football to be suspended on moral grounds due to the alarming rise in coronavirus cases.
Bruce has seen the virus’ impact first-hand, with Newcastle’s game at Aston Villa on 4 December postponed due to an outbreak at the training ground.
Jamaal Lascelles only returned to action for the North-East club in Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal, while star forward Allan Saint-Maximin remains weeks away from fitness.
Speaking after QPR bowed out of the FA Cup third round thanks to a 2-0 home loss to Fulham, Warburton questioned how long the game could continue in the current circumstances.
“There were 1,325 deaths on Friday and 68,000 new infections. You have got to fear those numbers are going to keep rising, certainly in the next few weeks. We all love the game, we are very privileged to be in football and we very privileged to be working in these difficult times.
“I am not sure – when schools are being closed and there are 1,300 deaths, which is tragic – and we are talking about football: I don’t want to sound like an old profit of doom but the most important thing is killing this virus. We have a moral responsibility – I totally agree with Steve.”
QPR went toe-toe with their top-tier opponents, before suffering extra-time heartache courtesy of strikes from substitutes Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Neeskens Kebano.
On a grim afternoon for forwards, both sides wasted opportunities to progress in normal time. Fulham’s Alexandar Mitrovic’s twice saw his attempts to break a 13-game goal drought thwarted, while home forward Macauley Bonne spurned a trio of glorious openings, including a second-minute corner he nodded over when unmarked in the six-yard box.
His strike partner Lyndon Dykes fared little better, meaning Warburton’s team have now scored just five times in their previous 10 outings.
Fans will be hoping Charlie Austin’s return, whose loan from West Brom was confirmed after the match, will lead to an upturn in fortunes. The 31-year-old netted 48 goals in 89 appearances for the club in his previous spell.