This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
QPR fell to their second successive defeat on Wednesday evening, following up Saturday’s 2-0 loss to West Brom by succumbing to a 3-0 scoreline against Cardiff.
Goals from Sean Morrison, Marlon Pack and Callum Paterson put the R’s to the sword, but perhaps Mark Warburton could have changed the outcome of the game with a slight tweak to his starting XI.
As aforesaid, QPR fell to a 3-0 defeat after goals from Morrison, Pack and Paterson.
The former had opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a header, after his centre-back partner Aden Flint headed the ball onto him.
The R’s played well despite the result – which slightly flatters Cardiff – having hit the woodwork twice through Eberechi Eze and Ryan Manning, while also having 72% of the possession and four more shots than their opponents.
Clearly though, defending resolutely enough to stop Cardiff maximising the chances they did create was a problem for Warburton’s side.
Since signing in the summer after leaving Liverpool, Conor Masterson hasn’t played a single minute of football for QPR.
The 21-year-old – a natural centre-back – was left on the bench against Cardiff with 34-year-old Geoff Cameron starting ahead of him, as Yoann Barbet and Grant Hall were missing.
Cameron, formerly of Stoke, performed poorly last time out against West Brom and, what with his age and the fact that the R’s had two games in the space of five days, Warburton should have been bold and dropped the experienced 55-cap international for a younger option.
With Barbet out due to suspension and Hall still not quite fit – they both look set to be ready for the Blackburn clash – what better time for Warburton to throw Masterson into the action for his first taste of first-team football at the club?
Blooding young players into the first-team can often be a thankless task, but the benefits from handing Masterson some game time would surely have been fruitful for QPR later down the line, as opposed to seeing a 34-year-old get more action, perform poorly and also have no more room for development.
Admittedly, it would have been a risk due to his lack of game time so far this term, but after Cameron delivered the performance that he did against the Baggies, it seems harsh not to have at least given the Irishman a chance.