Exclusive: Former non-league striker spells out his QPR ambition
After a whirlwind year, Troy Hewitt targets the Rs first team, and pays tribute to his old Harrow Borough manager
Troy Hewitt believes his loan spell with Dagenham & Redbridge will provide the perfect platform to launch him into the QPR first team.
The 21-year-old moved to the League Two side on a one-month loan earlier this month, making his debut against Crewe and since featuring against Southend and Cheltenham Town.
It is the latest chapter in a remarkable story for Hewitt, who signed for QPR from Ryman League side Harrow Borough in February, but featured just twice for the Rs before Neil Warnock agreed to send him to the Daggers.
Newham-born Hewitt says he is desperate to get his chance up front for Rangers this season, and believes a taste of lower league action in east London is the ideal preparation.
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“I’m not setting myself targets at Dagenham, I’m here to get experience, and I know that if you work hard, you get your dues,” Hewitt told London24.com.
“I don’t like to think too long term. I’d love to get back over there to QPR and get into the team, and who knows what might happen, I might end up playing every week! But this is a good place for me to learn and get some games.
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“Obviously I want to play for the first team but I can’t ask for everything overnight. I spent a lot of time in the reserves and scored quite a few goals, so me and my agent decided that Dagenham would be a good move.”
Hewitt admits the last year has been a whirlwind. Twelve months ago, the striker had just completed a move from Ryman League Division One North side Ilford to Harrow Borough, playing one division above.
Studying marketing at Middlesex University, Hewitt considered giving up football altogether last summer, but after discussions with the then Harrow boss David Howell, he decided to focus solely on his football.
Hewitt scored 20 goals in 30 league games for Harrow, while his hat-trick against Eastbourne Borough in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round earned him the Player of the Round award.
By then, Championship leaders QPR had made their interest known, and in February Hewitt made his dream move from Earlsmead to Loftus Road.
“As a kid growing up you dream of the chance to play professional football, and thankfully I was in the right place at the right time,” added Hewitt.
“At the time I was just happy to be playing well for Harrow Borough, because when I left Ilford I hadn’t really felt like playing any more. I was at University and I was having to make sacrifices, and football was slowly becoming one of the things I was sacrificing.
“David Howell helped me a lot. I’d only scored 13 goals for Ilford the previous season but from the moment I got there he seemed to see something in me. Straight away he gave me chances to start matches and showed faith in me.”
Hewitt is under no illusions at QPR; he knows he will have to be patient if he is to get his chance up front, with the likes of Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell and Jamie Mackie all ahead of him in the pecking order.
But after making his debut against Rochdale in the Carling Cup in August and a series of goal-scoring performances for the reserves, Hewitt says he is feeling right at home with the Hoops.
“I didn’t find the step up that hard, I was just happy to join in training. I know everyone’s there to help so I’ve found it quite easy to fit in.
“Neil Warnock said he’d heard a lot about me, he likes a player with hunger and I think he could see something in me.
“I spoke to all the guys from the first team and they told me to keep my head down and learn. Keith Curle told me to watch the older guys and learn from them, even the defenders.
“Coming on against Rochdale was fun – not messing about, it was great to get involved. I’ve grown up with people giving me positive advice so I don’t let things affect me.”
Follow Ian Cooper on Twitter @QPRTimes