QPR Under-21 boss Steve Gallen is pleased to see young players getting their chance in the first team
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
QPR Under-21 manager Steve Gallen believes more of his young stars will make the breakthrough to the first team before the end of the season.
Darnell Furlong, Michael Doughty and Reece Grego-Cox have all made their Premier League debuts in recent weeks and Gallen is pleased to see players make the transition from the Under-21 team to Chris Ramsey’s first team plans.
Gallen said: “It’s nice obviously to see the boys getting their chance. It would be nice if they were coming into the first team picture in better circumstances but when has there been a right time to blood the youngsters?
“Since Neil Warnock joined in 2010 and kept the club up it has then been a case of going for promotion or fighting to stay up.
“It has been difficult to blood them and I think someone like Doughty, if he was at a different club in the Premier League, would have got more chances. He’s a very good player and had to be patient here waiting for a chance.
“The Premier League is a tough place to play. Darnell did great at Hull and then he’s up against one of the best players in the world in Alexis Sanchez when Arsenal came to Loftus Road – that’s a big step up in quality from playing in development games.”
Gallen’s Under-21 side drew 3-3 against Charlton Athletic on Monday afternoon, with Irish Under-19 duo Ryan Manning and Grego-Cox scoring the goals.
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Gallen believes the duo have a very bright future at the club.
He said: “I think Ryan struggled when he moved over here in January.
“It is a bit of a culture shock to move from the west of Ireland to west London, but in the last few weeks he looks more settled and has the confidence to now show why the club paid a fee for him. He’s only the second Under-21 player after Coll Donaldson that the club have paid a fee for.
“Let’s remember, though, that at 18 Ryan is still a kid trying to make his way in the game, but he’s tough, can run, will compete and has a quality left foot.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan and Cole Kpekawa play for the first team before the end of the season. Unfortunately it looks like Michael Petrasso will miss the rest of the campaign through injury though.”
On the subject of Grego-Cox, Gallen was delighted to see the youngster come off the bench in the 2-1 defeat against Spurs.
He said: “I’ve got an awful lot of time for Reece. He’s a lovely kid, he’s a triplet actually and very close to his brother and sister.
“The boy is strong, he seriously punches above his weight. As my Dad would say, ‘he’s a tough skin that one’.
“He has scored a lot of goals and I think he will be involved more in the first team this season.”
Grego-Cox said: “Steve [Gallen] just told me to keep working hard and I’d get my chance.
“We now know there’s an opportunity for everyone to grab it with two hands and run with it.
“I was ready. I could see Charlie (Austin) limping and the adrenaline was kicking in, and I was more confident than anything else.
“My mum, dad, sister, girlfriend, and a lot of QPR friends that I know were there.
“I’m a striker, but getting on anywhere will do, so sitting in behind the strikers ready for knockdowns suits me well.”
Gallen is confident another Irish youngster at the club will also make an impact once he fully recovers from an injury set back.
Winger Jake Mulraney joined the Rs after he was released by Nottingham Forest in December. Gallen moved quickly to snap up the Ireland youth international but a hamstring injury has hampered his progress.
Gallen said: “I think being released by Forest did have an impact on Jake. It probably knocked his confidence a bit but he has great ability.
“He has been missing because because of an injury and he hasn’t been able to complete 90 minutes yet. I had planned to start him against Charlton on Monday but we had the likes of Junior Hoilett and Niko Kranjcar in the team.
“Jake did well when he came off the bench. In training he can look like a world beater, but he can also look poor.
“I’m going to work hard with Jake and he will work hard to make sure he is a world beater more often and to push up being poor to being average.
“He just needs some more time.”