By Jack Morris
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Lee Camp’s popularity seems to have nosedived just as his time in the wilderness at QPR could be about to end.
Camp has come in for criticism from some fans – many of whom say they previously backed him – since the draw at Nottingham Forest.
Unexpectedly back in the Rangers goal because of an injury to Radek Cerny, and playing against the side he was recently with on loan, Camp lapped up the adoration of the home fans.
That didn’t go down too well with some, and neither did Forest’s equaliser which many blamed Camp for despite his claims that he was fouled in the build-up to the goal.
Camp then gave a post-match interview, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham and Forest’s website, in which he suggested he was interested in signing for the club and hoped they would make the deal happen.
Rangers’ position on this is that when Camp joined Forest on loan in October, a fee of £1m was agreed for his permanent transfer once the January window opened and Forest have declined to take up that option.
Since then, Forest have not formally registered an interest in signing Camp, who has two-and-a-half years of his QPR contract left to run.
As things stand, he will be staying until at least the end of the season.
And it now seems Cerny’s return to the side following his recovery from a hamstring problem is not a formality.
That will surprise Camp, who thinks otherwise and whose actions at Forest I suspect were partly down to believing that he could turn water into wine and still be dropped once Cerny was fit.
But my understanding is that having had a chance to look at Camp, Paulo Sousa could yet pick him even with Cerny fit.
That’s not to say he will, but Camp does have at least a chance of being selected – which is more than he had earlier in the season.
The problem with the theory that Camp should “shut up and fight for his place” as many have suggested he should do, is that that fight has been a futile one.
But now, just as his stock among some fans appears to have plummeted, Camp does have a reason to fight for that place.
Some of the reaction to his post-match Forest interview has been strong to say the least. My eyebrows were certainly raised while scanning through 606 last week.
The bottom line though is that, until now at least, Camp wasn’t wanted at QPR.
He is clearly wanted by many at Forest, so can he really be blamed for agreeing to an interview and then, when asked a straight question, suggesting that he would like to move there?
What he has said is really no different to what he said after returning to Derby after his time on loan at QPR. Back then he was a huge favourite among Rangers fans.
Adam Bolder also recently said similar things about Millwall after returning to Rangers for a short time, but no-one seemed to object.
Mud sticks, and Camp’s conduct at Derby is now being painted in a different light with some accusing him of throwing his toys at QPR as he did at Pride Park.
Even before recent events, I wouldn’t have minded a pound for every time I’d heard or read that Camp should stop moaning. Or that Camp should knuckle down and fight for his place, should stop blabbing to the press and so on.
Most of this had no basis whatsoever, because Camp was doing nothing of the sort.
It just seemed to be based on past events at Derby and a messageboard culture in which if something gets repeated often enough, it’s taken as fact.
The fact is that towards the end of last season, Camp went on record as saying he fully expected a quality keeper to join Rangers in the summer and that his time as the club’s undisputed number one would have to end if Rangers were to move forward.
After Cerny (who was very much brought in to be QPR’s first-choice keeper) was signed, Camp again spoke, saying the arrival of another keeper had been inevitable and he was ready to fight for his place.
During the pre-season trip to Scotland, it was starting to become even clearer that Cerny was likely to be chosen ahead of Camp once the season started. Camp went on the record again, saying that he would accept this and knuckle down and fight for his place.
During the first weeks of the season, Camp’s position was the subject of much speculation and he was given ample opportunity to comment publicly, but he stuck to the line that he was determined to fight for his place.
Rangers later made Camp available for a loan move and then made it clear he could leave the club altogether.
It was following this that Camp spoke about the possibility of him moving on if he wasn’t getting a chance at QPR – but this was after Rangers had made it clear he wasn’t in their plans and should move on.
Since returning to the Rangers side, Camp has again been given chances to comment on the record and potentially criticise QPR, and he has declined.
Then he played played against Forest, who previously agreed terms for his permanent signing after being told he was available.
He gave a post-match interview in which the inevitable question came up and he responded by saying that Forest knew what they needed to do to sign him, and he was interested in going there.
Camp was simply stating facts. No-one at QPR could suggest otherwise because it was their decision to make Camp available and agree to his potential sale to Forest.
All this could become academic if Rangers sign another back-up keeper and Camp gets the chance to go elsewhere on loan this week.
Otherwise, there is a chance Camp could be given the nod ahead of a fit Cerny against Ipswich on Saturday.
If that happens, not everyone will welcome the decision.
But regardless of his merits as a keeper, the perception of Camp as disloyal to QPR and willing to moan to the press rather than fight for his place is far from accurate.
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