QPR striker Jamie Mackie will look to capitalise on Andy Johnson’s injury
Andy Johnson's injury provides Jamie Mackie with the chance to earn a regular starting spot at QPR, writes Kieran Beckles
Andy Johnson’s cruciate ligament injury has provided Jamie Mackie with the opportunity to cement his place in Mark Hughes’ first-team, and the Queens Park Rangers striker is ready to capitalise on his team-mate’s misfortune.
The England international suffered the heart-breaking injury in the 33rd minute of QPR’s goalless draw with Chelsea in the west London derby earlier this month and is set to miss most of the campaign.
While Mackie is disappointed for QPR’s summer signing, the former MK Dons forward is relishing the chance to impress Hoops manager Hughes and start scoring regularly for QPR.
“AJ is a top man, not to mention a great player and someone I was looking forward to learning off and I already have done,” said Mackie.
“I’m gutted for him. It won’t just be me whose looking to capitalise on the opportunity.
“We’ve got a lot of forward thinking players, and hopefully if I get the nod up front for a game, I will relish the opportunity to play up front again after playing in midfield for a while.”
Mackie was rewarded for crucial goals against Liverpool and Manchester City in QPR’s successful battle against relegation with the arrival of further competition at Loftus Road over the summer.
In came Johnson on a free transfer from Everton, and QPR boss Mark Hughes managed to snap up highly-rated Blackburn Rovers winger Junior Hoilett to leave Mackie’s future at the R’s in doubt.
Southampton and West Ham United were reportedly interested in the enthusiastic, hard-working and refreshingly down to earth forward, but the Scotland international insists he never considered his QPR future.
Yet, after coming to terms with Hughes’ new arrivals ahead of the new Premier League season, Mackie is now facing a fresh set of rumours which suggest the Hoops are looking to add another striker to their ranks in January.
Top of that list is reportedly Manchester City’s lethal Scandinavian striker John Guidetti, but Mackie is remains philosophical about his future.
“It’s not really a question of that as a player [proving Hughes doesn’t need to sign anyone in January],” added Mackie.
“The media and other players maybe think that way, I don’t. I just play as I play. If the manager decides I’m the one to play or he needs another player, that’s down to him.
“I’ll give 100 per cent and I’m very confident in my ability. If he sees me as a replacement to play now and again for AJ or other strikers, I’m willing to do that.
“I’ll welcome new strikers into the team, but of course I want to play every game and if that means he doesn’t buy anyone else, that’s even better.”
While many of the Premier League’s strikers have begun their careers in the top flight, Mackie has been patient and worked hard to get his chance to face the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and his boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur on a regular basis.
The 26-year-old started out at Wimbledon, including a loan-spell at non-League Sutton United, before moving to Plymouth Argyle, where he became a first-team regular, netting 16 goals in 102 appearances.
His impressive performances for the Pilgrims prompted Neil Warnock to bring Mackie to Loftus Road as part of QPR’s bid to secure promotion, with the striker signing a four-year deal at the club.
However, on 8 January 2011, Mackie sustained a double leg break to leave him sidelined for seven months as QPR managed to win the Championship title before eventually returning to training in September.
As a result, Mackie can appreciate Johnson’s emotions following the England international’s latest injury setback.
“Well you know AJ is an experienced player. I’ve wished him all the best with recovery and been positive around him. He’s been there before and he’s obviously mentally very strong and he’s played games again.
“I’m sure he can come back and be as strong if not stronger, which often happens when you have a long-term injury. As someone who’s been there before, there’s not a lot I can really say to help him.”
Mackie struck seven Premier League goals last term, including the winner in a 3-2 comeback against Liverpool, the win which is credited with breathing life into the Hoops’ season, plus assisting Samba Diakite for the Mali midfielder’s vital goal in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal.
Hughes made 11 new signings in a hectic summer of arrivals and departures at Loftus Road, with big-name transfers including Esteban Granero from Real Madrid, Internazionale’s Champions League winner Júlio Cesar and Manchester United’s South Korea star Park Ji Sung.
Yet the Hoops are still searching for their first win after a disappointing opening five games which includes defeats by Manchester City, and most recently, Tottenham.
But Mackie is confident QPR will improve, as will results, once the squad have familiarised themselves with their new team-mates and start to gel – with impressive displays against Chelsea and White Hart Lane showing progress.
“As players, we’ve been around the block a long time and we understand a lot of new players and change mean success straight away.
“But if we embrace the change as players take time to gel, eventually come Christmas time and 10 games in, you can start judging us and we can start seeing what we’re like as a squad.
“But at the moment, it’s so early in to be seeing instant results because we’re so new with each and getting to know each other.
“Chelsea showed that we are starting to get to know each other, and I’m confident this project will work.”
Mackie may be confident in Hughes’ plans for the Hoops, but does the Scottish striker envisage himself being part of the manager’s thoughts as QPR look to become an established Premier League club?
“I’m very confident in what I can bring to the table myself. Although he’s brought other players to the club, I’m confident in what I bring.
“Obviously the manager is as well, and I’m playing a big part this season and until I’m told otherwise I’ll carry on playing and enjoy QPR.”