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Smyth: Graft will earn QPR reward for former Blues star



Former Linfield hero Paul Smyth is determined to make his mark at new club QPR.

Former Linfield hero Paul Smyth is determined to make his mark at new club QPR.

Former Linfield hero Paul Smyth is determined to make his mark at new club QPR.

Former Linfield hero Paul Smyth is determined to graft and show his craft to make an impression - and the first team squad - with new club QPR.

The 19-year-old will play for the Northern Ireland Under-21 side against Albania tonight at Mourneview Park and in Slovakia next Tuesday in the European Championships before spending some time at home with his family prior to moving lock, stock and barrel to west London to begin a new adventure with the English Championship side.

Dazzling winger Smyth, who won the treble with the Blues last season, can't wait to get started now his £150,000 transfer has been signed, sealed and delivered.

"I'm buzzing. I'm just glad to get it over the line because there was so much speculation about the move and people kept coming up to me asking if I was going," said Smyth (above).

"QPR's a very good club. It's going to be a new chapter for me. Obviously I'll go over and start with the Under-23s, but my main target is the first team and I'll be working hard and giving my all to achieve that. I want to show all my attributes and do really well."

Smyth is relishing the prospect of learning from the QPR boss, adding: "I can't wait to work with Ian Holloway. He is a massive character and I'll learn a lot from him and the players there, including Northern Ireland's Conor Washington."

The teenager made a point of thanking Linfield manager David Healy and his old team-mates for his rapid progression.

"It's all happened so quickly. I was playing for the reserves and then David Healy came in as manager and brought me into the first team squad straight away," said Smyth.

"He has taught me so much and if it wasn't for players like Jamie Mulgrew, Stephen Lowry, Jimmy Callacher and everyone else who have pushed me hard I wouldn't have got to this point.

"I started when I was Under-15 and kept developing through the age groups. I want to thank the Linfield staff and the fans for supporting me. I'm glad I impressed them all before I left. If it doesn't work across the water I know where I'll come back to."

It shouldn't come to that if Smyth realises his massive potential. He trained with the Northern Ireland senior panel at their Euro 2016 finals camp and boss Michael O'Neill will keep a close eye on the youngster at Loftus Road.

"Michael O'Neill doesn't care about your age as long as you are good enough and work hard. Another target is to go on and play for the Northern Ireland senior team," stated Smyth.

Ian Barraclough's Under-21 side enjoyed a fantastic 2-1 win in Estonia in June. In Lurgan tonight, the boss wants to build on that victory.

"We're preparing, hopefully, for another successful night," said Barraclough.

"It was good to get a win in the first game to give the boys a bit of confidence but I've told the group we can't take it for granted. We haven't suddenly become world beaters."

  • N Ireland U2 v Albania U21, U21 European Championship Qualifier: Mourneview Park, Saturday, 7.30pm

Belfast Telegraph