Shaun Wright-Phillips can finally fulfil his potential at QPR

When Shaun Wright-Phillips made his debut for Queens Park Rangers against Newcastle recently, it was his first Premier League start in a year, having only featured in seven league games for Manchester City last season.

He made a great first impression, creating a number of chances for Jay Bothroyd and linking well with Adel Taarabt, improving upon this showing with a man of the match performance in the 3-0 win at Wolves the following weekend. Wright-Phillips provided an assist for new skipper Joey Barton and hit the post late on, providing another solid display in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. He also played the full 90 minutes on Sunday, in a fixture he will be keen to forget as QPR were crushed 6-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage, ahead of the international break.

Wright-Phillips is regarded as a marquee player at QPR and is a guaranteed starter for the first time since he originally left Manchester City in the summer of 2005, having previously subscribed to two of the biggest rebuilding jobs in football history and on both occasions failing to make the grade. Signed by Jose Mourinho for £21m, Wright-Phillips appeared in 27 league games in each of his three seasons with Chelsea, never quite convincing either Mourinho or his replacement Avram Grant.

During this period he also missed out on both the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships before sealing an £8.5m return to Manchester City, under the stewardship of Mark Hughes. Despite a promising start, his career again stalled, with Mancini eventually replacing Hughes and Adam Johnson brought in to replace Wright-Phillips. Johnson has since been replaced himself, such is the speed and ruthless nature of Manchester City’s rapid rise, with Wright-Phillips joining QPR on the final day of the recent transfer window.

Wright-Phillips has also flickered brightly on the international stage in spells, but has never been able to cement his place and become a fixture with England. He scored in appearances against Israel, Estonia and Switzerland in the 2007-08 season, as Steve McClaren’s reign was coming to an end and Fabio Capello’s spell began. In 2009-10 he scored against Belarus and Egypt, making the squad for the 2010 World Cup at Theo Walcott’s expense, appearing from the bench in three of the four games.

Neil Warnock is well aware that Wright-Phillips remains keen to add to his 36 caps and believes that he has a chance of making the cut for the European Championships, if he continues to flourish in his free role as part of QPR’s 4-2-3-1 formation. “He’d love to play at Euro 2012, but as I’ve said to him, don’t go looking for that, just concentrate on enjoying your game and people will look at you. You can’t stop but look at him when he’s in full flight because he’s wonderful to see.

He may have accumulated vast riches and plenty of honours during his time at Chelsea and his second stint at Manchester City, winning all four domestic trophies, but his reputation has not been particularly enhanced since his first spell with City. As he approaches his 30th birthday, everything is in place for Shaun Wright-Phillips to finally kick on and fulfil his rich potential.

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