Steve McClaren insists that supremacy on paper will count for nothing as QPR attempt to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 1997 when they travel to League One Portsmouth.

Despite their advantage in league standing, McClaren knows not to underestimate Pompey, who have been carried all the way to top of England’s third tier thanks to a fine first-half of the season, and downed Championship flyers Norwich to reach the fourth round. 

But Rangers, who set up the Fratton Park tie with an impressive win over Leeds, are eyeing a first trip to the last 16 since Trevor Sinclair’s famous bicycle kick took them past Barnsley 22 years ago.

“This is a proper game, make no mistake about it,” McClaren told the QPR website.

“There will be no using the squad, tweaking this, tweaking that or resting players. There won’t be anything like that.

“We will be putting out a team which we feel can get us the result.

“It’ll be a full house and they are flying in the league. I fully expect them to be in the Championship next season.

“They have a great home record and after beating Norwich in the last round from what I hear they will be expecting to win this game.

“This is going to be a really tough one for us. We will have to show immense character and courage if we are to be in the hat for the next round.”

McClaren will have to do without Tomer Hemed, Angel Rangel and Geoff Cameron for the game, while Ebere Eze is expected to be available.

And the 57-year-old is keen to field his strongest XI, knowing that it’s a tie steeped in tradition as two former finalists clash, with Portsmouth having lifted the trophy as recently as 2008.

“This is going to be what I call a traditional FA Cup tie,” he continued.

“We always keep an eye on our opposition in terms of what they’re saying and what they’re doing. We hear there is a real buzz about this game in Portsmouth.

“They feel this is a great game for them, so I expect them to go at it hammer and tongs.

“We have to make sure we go there, be professional and win our duels. The key thing is to have the courage to get the ball down and play. If it becomes a fight, they are very good at that.”