Preview: Five talking points ahead of Queens Park Rangers v Bolton Wanderers

Wanderers are back on the road on Saturday as they travel to West London to face Queens Park Rangers.

Hoping to bounce back after their midweek defeat to Cardiff City, highlights five talking points ahead of the Whites' trip to Loftus Road.

1. Away form

Defeat at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night leaves Wanderers with a solitary away win this season – a 1-0 triumph at Sheffield United in December.

While the Whites’ home form has been particularly impressive, kick-starting their push out of the relegation zone, Phil Parkinson's side will be a seeking a similar return from their outings on the road in the final third of the season with every point vital in the Sky Bet Championship relegation fight.

And with six of Bolton's remaining eight away matches coming against sides currently in the bottom half of the table, an upturn in away form could be crucial in securing their second tier status for next season, starting with a potential win against 16th placed QPR on Saturday.

2. Busy schedule

The Trotters' next away trip comes a week after Saturday's game when Wanderers make the long journey to Norfolk to take on Norwich City, but before that there is some home comfort with relegation-rivals Sunderland coming to Macron Stadium on Tuesday night.

Slap-bang in the middle of a run of games that will be hard on the legs, there is an opportunity for momentum to build as long as the Whites can bounce back from their defeat in Cardiff in midweek.

A win in West London would give the squad confidence ahead of the six-pointer with Sunderland and two positive results in three days could go a long way to putting considerable distance between Bolton and the drop zone.

3. High-profile returns?

Perhaps the return of the skipper will improve the Trotters’ away form? Darren Pratley has been missing since Wanderers' New Year’s Day victory through injury with the Whites losing both away matches without scoring a goal in his absence.

The London-born midfielder returned to first team training this week and will be eager to make his return in familiar surroundings ahead of a decisive run of fixtures in Bolton's Sky Bet Championship campaign.

One man who could also return to the starting line-up is David Wheater. The centre-back was utilised as a substitute in midweek at Cardiff but will be hoping to return to the heart of the Trotters' defence as they chase a vital three points in the capital. 

4. Karl Henry

Another high-profile return is that of midfielder Karl Henry as he goes back to his former club on Saturday.

The experienced midfielder made just short of 100 appearances for QPR over a four-year spell which included a season in the Premier League.

Having also won promotion to the top-flight through the play-offs during his time in West London, the veteran has been a regular in the Wanderers’ line-up since joining on a free transfer in September, captaining the Whites in their last outing against Cardiff.

Now preparing to return to Loftus Road for the first time since leaving the club at the end of last season, Henry would love to show QPR what they missed out by allowing his contract to run down.

5. Tight at the bottom

With so few points separating the teams in the bottom half, every match is vital at this stage of the season.

Three of the five teams below Bolton are in action on Saturday, where certain results could leave just two points separating 24th and 19th by 5pm.

But a win could move the Trotters as many as five points clear of the relegation zone and within three points of QPR.

Victory over the hosts, who are currently six places above the Championship drop zone, would pull them right back into the mix and give a new target for Wanderers to leapfrog in the table.

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