Belfast Telegraph

Paul Smyth hails Steve McClaren as Northern Ireland star pens new QPR deal

By Josh Bunting

Northern Ireland international Paul Smyth has extended his contract at Sky Bet Championship side Queens Park Rangers.

The former Linfield star has penned a new deal until 2021 at Loftus Road and has praised Steve McClaren for the manager's role in his progression.

That's despite playing just 70 minutes of Championship football since the former England boss took the reigns in the summer - a situation that McClaren admits needs to be addressed if the 21-year-old's development is to continue.

“I am absolutely delighted to sign the new deal," Smyth told www.qpr.co.uk. “It means I can concentrate now on my football and doing all I can to break into the first-team in that time.

“I have developed so much since I have been here, and particularly since Steve McClaren came in. He has spoken to me and told me what I need to do and what he wants from me. He has helped me so much.

“My aim now is to carry on developing and then when I get my chance in the first team, make sure I take it.”

Smyth has added just two cup appearances to his pair of league outings this season, the last coming way back in September.

“For him to progress, he needs to play games. That’s something we are all very wary of," said McClaren.

“Paul is an exciting talent who is developing all the time so we are delighted to see him extend his stay with us.

“He has got a great work ethic and is eager to learn and improve. Like a lot of the players on the fringe of the first team, he hasn’t had much gametime because the ones with the shirts have been doing so well this season.

“That’s been hard for him but I can’t fault his attitude."

Smyth’s attacking style has made him a favourite with the R’s fans since he scored on his debut on New Year's Day 2018 to help seal a 2-1 win over Cardiff.

“The fans have been great with me,” he added. “They give me a lot of support.

“They pay their money to come and back us, so whenever I play I want to put a show on for them and get them out of their seats.

“Now that I have signed a new deal, hopefully I will get the chance to do that more and more.”

Smyth was called up to the Northern Ireland team back in March 2018 and came off the bench to net against South Korea on his senior debut.

However Smyth has found opportunities hard to come by this season as he has played just four times this season and not featured since the EFL Cup loss at Blackpool in September.

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