Belfast Telegraph

Hasselbaink tips Washington to be a Euro star for Northern Ireland

By Rory Dollard

QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has thrown his weight behind Conor Washington's Euro 2016 dream and backed him to be a star of the future.

Washington, who scored on his international home debut against Slovenia in March, is set to make Michael O'Neill's squad for France despite playing no part in the qualifying campaign.

A place at the finals would cap an extraordinary rise for the 23-year-old, who was playing non-league football with St Ives four years ago.

But his club boss Hasselbaink is convinced Washington is ready for it.

And when Hasselbaink speaks about forwards it is worth listening, the Dutchman having won the Premier League golden boot with both Leeds and Chelsea.

"I really hope Conor goes to the Euros because it would be a great experience for him and he's fully deserved it," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"He's done ever so well to get to this point - he scored goals at Peterborough, he earned the move here and he's playing at that higher level now.

"I haven't spoken to Michael O'Neill about him yet, I'm sure he already knows what Conor can do, but I'd be happy to."

Washington has actually scored more times for O'Neill than Hasselbaink, having not yet netted for the Hoops since his £3million transfer in January.

He has been eased gradually into the first-team picture, starting six matches and appearing eight times from the bench, but Hasselbaink has no doubt there is a bigger role for him next season.

"He's still waiting for his first goal with us but when he gets it he'll get a second and a third, and then I think you will see him rising and playing with confidence," he said.

"We believe in him, we have faith in him and we expect him to be a big hit with us.

"There's a big expectation from us around Conor and I'm looking forward to working with him more."

Belfast Telegraph


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