Boss Mark Warburton insists QPR are prepared to face a full-strength, fit and firing Fulham side as they bid to trump their west London neighbours and progress past the third round of the FA Cup for the third year running. 

The Hoops haven’t kicked a ball since their 1-1 draw away at Championship leaders Norwich on December 29, after their New Year battle at Luton was postponed due to Covid-19 cases among the Hatters squad. 

Similar issues have seen Fulham’s last two matches postponed, and Warburton expects his opposite number Scott Parker to use the FA Cup clash to instil some match sharpness into some of his strongest squad members with one eye on their Premier League game against Chelsea next Friday. 

Despite sitting three points adrift of safety in the top tier, Fulham are unbeaten in four matches and haven’t fallen to the Rs since 2016 - a trend Warburton is keen to buck at Loftus Road on Saturday. 

“They have had their last two games postponed and don’t play for a week after this so I think they will see this as a very important game in terms of their preparation,” said Warburton, 58. 

“I expect a very strong Fulham team and we have to be prepared for that and deliver a good performance ourselves. 

“We know it’s a very tough game. I am full of respect for Scott Parker and his players but we want to deliver a good performance and hopefully move forward to the fourth round.”

FA Cup runners-up in 1982, QPR progressed to the fifth round of the world’s oldest national football competition two seasons ago, before being dumped out by Championship rivals Sheffield Wednesday one stage earlier last year. 

Currently 20th in the Championship standings and without a win in any competition since the end of November, a strong showing against Premier League opposition could go some way towards Rangers re-grasping a winning mentality going into the business end of the season. 

And the enormity of such an occasion against bitter local rivals Fulham isn’t lost on Warburton, who has challenged his team to delve deep into a tournament that sits close to his heart. 

He added: “When you usually have a game like this, the third round of the FA Cup, QPR against Fulham, a London derby, the stadium would be packed, and the atmosphere and anticipation is why we love the game so much. 

“The fact that can’t be the case is very sad. But it is a privilege to be part of it. You look forward to the big games, and from our point of view we are looking forward to Fulham. 

“This is the FA Cup, and as a kid growing up this was the best competition in the world. It is globally recognised and anyone who tries to disrespect it is living in a different world to me.”