QPR transfer focus - Hughes turns to youngsters to bolster his options
Despite high profile signings such as Park Ji-Sung, Junior Hoilett and the loan signing of Fabio, Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes is keen to blood young, fresh faces from the club’s academy side and develop them into first team players.
The former Manchester City boss decided to take youngsters Michael Doughty, Max Ehmer and Michael Harriman on the club’s pre-season tour of Asia to try and integrate them with the new superstars he has signed.
Right-back Harriman impressed Hughes by scoring in one of the games and midfielder Doughty set up Shaun Wright-Phillips’ equalizer in the 1-1 draw against Turkish side Trabzonspor.
Hughes said of the three youngsters: “They’ve done really well - that’s been another bonus. They’ve probably played a lot better than I expected, which is a good sign because it shows they can step up. When they’ve got good players around them they look good players themselves.”
“We want to see young players coming through the ranks because then our fans will have a special affinity to those.”
Ehmer will be looking to step forward and stake a place in the squad for Premier League games after spending the last two seasons out on loan. The centre-back has looked impressive in his two loan spells at Yeovil Town, playing a total of 51 games, despite being only 19 at the time.
Doughty has had loan spells at Crawley Town and Aldershot and has played 21 league games in total, but after featuring in all three games in Asia, and being named in the squad for the tour of Germany, he admits it has been a big step up in terms of quality in the Rangers first team.
“It’s a different standard to what I have played in but I am relishing it. I feel like I am improving with every game and am just trying to take every opportunity,” Doughty said.
Another young player that has impressed Hughes so far this pre-season has been Hogan Ephraim, who has been featuring more in a central midfield role, as opposed to his usual role on the wing or behind the strikers.
Ephraim is a player who could be compared to playmaker Adel Taarabt, a skilful, tricky type who has been criticised in the past for his work rate. Recent loan spells at Charlton and Bristol City showed he is a talented player that could be used at Loftus Road this season.
The recent match against Trabzonspor saw Ephraim line up in a two-man central midfield role with new signing Park. Ephraim admitted that although it was strange playing in an unfamiliar position, he enjoyed it.
“The manager wants me to get on the ball a lot. He wants us to play football the way I believe it should be played and that can only benefit me.,” Ephraim said.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG