Hoilett has a key role to play for QPR, says Hasselbaink

Junior Hoilett

Junior Hoilett - Credit: EMPICS Sport

QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes Junior Hoilett will play a key role in his long-term plans at the club.

Hoilett has endured an up-and-down spell at Loftus Road since joining from Blackburn Rovers three years ago, falling out of favour under former boss Chris Ramsey before his sacking last month.

But after a string of encouraging displays in recent weeks the Canadian has found a new lease of life, with his new manager making it no secret how big a fan he is of his talents.

Hasselbaink told the Times: “Yes, Junior is a big part of my plans. He is somebody who can create opportunities, and someone who can open up defences with his pace.

“He’s a big confidence player, and a player who wants to know from the manager that he likes him and appreciates him.

“I think he can be a really big weapon for us. If we can get him back to the level he was when he was playing for Blackburn, I think he can be an enormous player for us.”

Meanwhile, the Rs boss says he is in no rush to hurry back Jamie Mackie from injury, after the forward completed a first full day back training with the squad on Monday.

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The 30-year-old has made just four appearances this season, the last coming in the 4-0 thumping at Fulham in September, when he suffered a significant tear to his hamstring at Craven Cottage – which has left him on the sidelines ever since.

And such is Mackie’s value to the team, Hasselbaink will not be taking any risks with his fitness.

He added: “He’s at least a few weeks away. He trained with the group on Monday, doing everything for the first time, so it will take a while for him to be 100 per cent.

“He’s had a horrific injury with his hamstring, so it will take a while yet before he is back. Jamie is a very optimistic person and I like that, he pushes himself, but sometimes you have to protect yourself.

“We have to give him the base so he doesn’t break down. If we get him back into the team too early then he will break down and we’ll lose him again and we can’t afford that.”

The same applies to Rs talisman Charlie Austin, who has also struggled with injury this season, and continues to be tipped for a move.

“I’m a big lover of Charlie,” said Hasselbaink. “He’s a very, very good striker that I rate highly – he’s proved himself at the highest level.

“I need to gradually ease him back into the team, he hasn’t played a lot this season. I really hope he stays, but in football there are no guarantees and everybody wants to make a profit.

“At the end of the day it’s a business. But do we want to sell him? No. It’s up to the owners.”

The former Burton Albion boss insists he has no qualms selecting the likes of Austin, Sandro and Matty Phillips on a regular basis in his starting XI, despite their futures being far from certain heading into the January transfer window.

“Everybody is very important for me,” he said. “Because I have to work with the players I have.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in January so I have to make sure they are in the best condition possible and that they are the right way until they are not going to be here.

“As far as I am concerned I want to keep everybody here. I want to keep the squad together and then later down the line we’ll look at what players we need to bring in and also let go.

“These players you mention are very important, but so are the others – we are a team.”

Hasselbaink says Les Ferdinand and himself have yet to come to a decision on whether Ben Gladwin will return to the club in January once his loan spell at former club Swindon Town ends.

He said: “We will have scouts watching him between now and then and will then decide whether it is the right time to add him to the squad or not.”

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