In only a handful of games, Neil Warnock and fans of Queens Park Rangers will have already seen both sides of Jay Bothroyd. The lackadaisical, too-cool-for-school, strutting peacock lining up for his eighth senior club in 11 years, and the formidable, technically-gifted marksman that became Cardiff City’s focal point, earning an England cap in the process.
Having secured Bothroyd’s services in the summer, on a free transfer after his Cardiff contract had expired, Warnock confessed how highly he rated his new acquisition. “I look at strikers in the Premier League and people mention Andy Carroll to me and however many millions he cost,” explained Warnock. “Andy Carroll is fantastic in the air, but you cannot tell me he has more about him than Jay Bothroyd when he is on song. I think Jay has got everything to fight for his England place and it is really up to him.”
His initial contribution did not seem to tally with Warnock’s bold claims as Bothroyd struggled to retain possession and his passing was haphazard, failing to provide an adequate platform for QPR to build their attacks. He was eventually withdrawn from the side in favour of Heidur Helguson until a discussion with Warnock and a few home truths appear to have transformed his season. “He came to see me and asked me how he can get back in the team after I left him out and I told him he had to show me on the training ground that he was hungry to come back in because his attitude wasn’t good at the time.” Since then, a recalled and revitalised Bothroyd has improved in every aspect, including a couple of headed goals in his last two outings against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
If Bothroyd can find consistency and eliminate certain unfavourable aspects of his play, a tendency to go to ground far too easily and clash with officials the most pressing, he has the ability to add to his sole England appearance. Blessed with a sweet left foot, Bothroyd is capable of intricate skill or unleashing a sledgehammer drive on goal, he also boasts a decent turn of pace. Tall with good upper body strength, he is also able to lead the line and hold up play, in a similar mould to Bobby Zamora.
With plenty of competition for international places up front, the overall quality of the candidates under consideration need not intimidate Bothroyd. The likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck represent the future and lead the pecking order, but Bothroyd will play more first team football than them this season, if he can maintain the high standards expected of him. Bothroyd also has experience, versatility and football intelligence on his side, having now acclimatised to the Premier League and become accustomed to the way QPR play, the rest is up to him.
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