Angelo can be the exception
By Ben Kosky YOU can count on one hand the number of homegrown players who have fashioned anything resembling a QPR career during the past decade. But Angelo Balanta is aiming to buck that trend after returning from his successful loan spell at Wycombe to
By Ben Kosky
YOU can count on one hand the number of homegrown players who have fashioned anything resembling a QPR career during the past decade.
But Angelo Balanta is aiming to buck that trend after returning from his successful loan spell at Wycombe to try and nail down a place in the Rangers line-up.
And the teenage forward, who came on as a second-half substitute in the Rs' 3-1 defeat by Ipswich, says he is not worried about being weighed down by the expectation of fans keen to finally see an in-house talent flourish.
"I don't necessarily feel more pressure," Balanta told the Times. "There are people like Romone Rose and Joe Oastler coming through as well, so it isn't just up to me.
"It's about working hard and achieving your goals. Wycombe was a good experience for me - they were top of the league at the time and I got a few games and a few goals under my belt.
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"Now I'm back at QPR and I want to get a few games here. Hopefully I'll get my opportunity to play football, because I love it."
The skilful 18-year-old was handed his first-team debut by former QPR boss Luigi de Canio just over a year ago, but has since notched up a further 20 appearances under Iain Dowie and Paulo Sousa.
And Balanta has been greatly encouraged by the words of the present Loftus Road coach since the end of his two and a half month stay with the League Two promotion hopefuls.
"Basically the gaffer said to me 'you're a good player, I don't have to tell you that, but you have to work hard to get in the team because there's a good squad, as you know. Work hard, sooner or later you'll get an opportunity and you have to take it.'
"Obviously you know that they could buy any player realistically, so it was good to hear that the gaffer liked me.
"He prefers to play with two wingers and that suits me as well, coming in off the left flank and getting shots in. But whatever position I end up in, I want to do my best for myself and the team."
Born in Colombia, Balanta grew up in London - and is still eligible for the country of his birth despite earning a recent call-up to the England under-19 squad.
But the youngster's roots are very much in west London and he first came to the attention of QPR while playing Harrow Sunday Youth League football for Fulham-based Brunswick Boys.
"There are a lot of talented footballers out there in the community who don't really get an opportunity," Balanta admitted. "But if they do, I'm sure they'll be keen to take it just as I was."
If Rangers are serious about their 'long-term project', they could certainly do worse than scour the streets and parks of west London to try and unearth a few more Angelo Balantas.