The sight of Grant Hanley in Norwich City's backline is undeniably positive - particularly after such a lengthy lay-off. 

After his first minutes since that Achilles issue against Blackburn last Easter, Hanley joked he was more than happy to take on the responsibility of the post-match interview. There is a genuine delight at being back playing. 

Even since that point, he has endured inevitable setbacks with minor hamstring and back complaints, but he is continuing to shake the rust off as he attempts to get back to full fitness for the Championship top-six pursuit. 

During the last few Championship crusades, Hanley has been a crucial component of their defensive efforts. 

His loss has been felt at points during this campaign, but Shane Duffy's improving displays have helped fill the void. Hanley has remained a key part of the dressing room, even through his period of being sidelined. 

Duffy's calf injury has created an opening for the Scottish international to return to the heart of City's defence. Putting a run of games together will be his next step. It is an opportunity he intends to grasp. 

That context perhaps explains why at points during Norwich's draw with QPR, the rust was visible. Prior to Saturday, Hanley had only played one full 90 minutes - that arrived against Southampton on New Year's Day as part of a back three. 

On only his second Championship start of the season, Hanley could have done without the test of Sinclair Armstrong. 

His pace, power and explosiveness caused City's defensive duo problems in the first half. There was a couple of instances where he shrugged them off or had to be halted illegally after turning them. 

Hanley did well in the closing stages of the first half to win one of his trademark free-kicks against Armstrong. That threat eased somewhat in the second period when Norwich turned the screw in pursuit of a route back into the contest. 

No Norwich player made more interceptions than Hanley's three - showing the proactivity of his defensive actions to sniff out attacks, and his one tackle came in the middle third of the pitch. 

The Pink Un: Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson experienced problems against QPR's attacking options.Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson experienced problems against QPR's attacking options. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

He was called upon to turn Ilias Chair's cross behind for a corner in the second period after Jack Stacey's poor turnover and was neat in possession throughout. 

Just before Michael Frey's equaliser, there was a warning when Hanley failed to track Lyndon Dykes dart to the near post - only for his compatriot to head wide. 

Moments later, City's captain also lost Frey as he picked up Jonas Anderson's cross before sneaking it into the bottom corner for the equaliser late on. 

Hanley is an honest and experienced professional, he would be first to admit he needs to find more gears in the games to come - but his situation does provide context of the rustiness on display. 

When at his best, Hanley's defensive basics are up there with any of his City competitors. There will be a trust that he can help ensure Duffy's absence isn't felt. 

Serious injuries have existed throughout his time at Norwich, but he has so far proven unshakeable, and fears over a drop in his performance levels appear unfounded at present. 

Perhaps David Wagner and Hanley himself will learn more about his capabilities, both physically and defensively, during a three-game week. He is the type of player who will be desperate to be involved in all of those clashes, given the magnitude of them. 

He has previously enjoyed a strong partnership with Ben Gibson, which will need to be reignited to guarantee Norwich doesn't concede the type of goals that unfolded at Loftus Road. 

The Pink Un: Grant Hanley will be desperate to prove himself again at Norwich City.Grant Hanley will be desperate to prove himself again at Norwich City. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

That pairing was Norwich's 10th of the season. What they could do now for a few weeks is add some consistency in their selection. 

It is an opportunity that comes at the perfect time for Hanley who has seldom let City down when called upon during the last six and a half seasons at the club. 

After such a difficult campaign with injuries, he will be hoping to prove himself once again. 

VERDICT: Needs to be cut some slack for the fact it was only his second Championship start of the season. Too slow to react as Michael Frey moved towards the ball to convert the equaliser. Sinclair Armstrong gave him and Ben Gibson plenty to think about

RATING: 5 out of 10