Mackie backs under-fire Joey Barton

QPR striker Jamie Mackie has backed club captain Joey Barton to return to form, after being criticised for a poor showing against Liverpool in midweek.

The controversial midfielder was booed by some sections of the Loftus Road faithful in the 3-2 win over the Merseysiders on Wednesday, with the player himself admitting that it was ‘the worst performance of my career’.

Despite this, Mackie has stated that Barton has an important role to play in Rangers’ remainder of the campaign.

“You don’t like to see that but Joey’s an immensely strong character so I don’t think we need to worry about it,” he told The Guardian.

“He’s our captain, our leader. He never hides, whether he’s having a good or a bad game. He’s probably got a bigger part to play than anyone [in QPR’s fight against relegation]. He wants us to win games whether he is banging the goals in or not and we are lucky to have him.”

Mackie, who scored the winning goal against Kenny Dalglish’s men, feels that his side have every chance of avoiding demotion back to the Championship.

“With the talent we’ve got in the dressing room, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We just needed that little bit of belief, that little bit of confidence.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are as a player, confidence goes a massive way. To come back from 2-0 down against a team packed with quality like Liverpool, it’s got to give everyone belief in what we’re trying to do. We’ve got a great chance of picking up results now.

“We’re under no illusions. We’re right in the mixer and we could get relegated. We’ve put ourselves in that position and were the only people who can get ourselves out of it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.

“If we’d lost against Liverpool the doom-mongers would have been out saying we’re down already. We’ve got nine games left, a very, very tough run-in. But every single game we’re going to rack up points and definitely give it a good shot,” he concluded.

QPR face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and are in 17th place ahead of the weekend’s fixture list.

By Gareth McKnight