Brentford v QPR - 14/02/2004
Stephen Hunt today warned Martin Rowlands he will be on his guard against any attempt to renew their bitter feud. The Irish winger and his former Brentford team-mate clashed repeatedly-when Queens Park Rangers hosted their neighbours last November and tensions are running high ahead of tomorrow's rematch. After the final whistle at Loftus Road, Rowlands told Hunt to 'watch himself' the next time they met following a series of ugly confrontations during the second half. But Hunt hit back today, saying: 'I am not worried although I will be on my guard. There is certainly no love lost between us.' The pair played together for two years at Brentford before Rowlands left last summer, and Hunt is acutely aware of his rival's volatile nature. The 23-year-old added: 'Martin is a good player and he has the ability to play in the Premiership, but there is another side to him. 'There are some players you know that get wound up and he is definitely one of them, especially when things are going badly.
'His temperament has definitely improved recently and he has become a better player for it. By all accounts he has been outstanding for Rangers this year. 'When he was younger he was much wilder and a bit of a hothead, but now he has a girlfriend which has certainly helped him to calm down. I have heard they are getting married in the summer, although I am not expecting an invite to the wedding.' Rowlands' departure from Griffin Park was an acrimonious one with some Bees fans suspicious about the amount of injuries he appeared to suffer during the final season of his contract. He strongly denies suggestions that he failed to give his all. The 24-year-old was nevertheless subjected to a torrent of abuse at Loftus Road - to which he responded by kissing the badge on his Rangers shirt in front of visiting fans. The gesture was not appreciated by Brentford officials who made a formal complaint to Rangers and Hunt fears a backlash tomorrow. He said: 'I am sure he will get a hot reception. He really didn't help himself, there is no way I would have done anything like that.' Rowlands was scathing about his former employers in the build-up to the last match - claiming he was delighted to have joined a 'bigger, more professional' club - but this week he was keeping a lower profile. Refusing to give interviews that might inflame the situation, the midfielder would only say: 'They can say what they want, we are going there to get three points and that is all we care about.' After losing their last two away games, Rangers are coming under increasing pressure in the race for automatic promotion, while Brentford have won only once this year and are close to the relegation zone.
Hunt added: 'It is a massive game for us and the fans. We will definitely be up for it.' Defender Ronnie Bull is suspended, but otherwise Brentford are at full strength. Rangers have no new injuries and Ian Holloway is expected to name the same team that beat Notts County last weekend.
London Evening Standard
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