Belfast Telegraph

QPR close to matching Linfield's six-figure valuation of Paul Smyth

Paul Smyth could be set to seal a transfer to full-time football before the close of the transfer window.

The 19 year-old has been subject of much interest from England, with QPR having an offer turned down by Smyth's current club Linfield.

However, the Belfast Telegraph understands that QPR's offer falls just short of the Blues' valuation.

There is strong interest in Smyth from a number of clubs, but QPR are leading the race and have the finances to secure the deal before the transfer window closes.

Any deal would include clauses such as money for senior international appearances - as Smyth is a key member of the Northern Ireland U21 squad - and a slice of the sell-on fee should the player move on from the London club.

QPR are clearly huge admirers of Smyth and are anxious to get the deal over the line this month.

Linfield will not stand in his way of progressing to the professional ranks, however they have a six-figure valuation of the winger which they would like to see met.

Crawley Town tabled a bid of around £55,000 for Smyth but Linfield dismissed that offer as "derisory".

The Blues have been placed in a more difficult position because of Andy Waterworth's knee injury, but the Blues are already making plans to bolster their attacking options ahead of Smyth's likely exit.

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern said: "Talks are ongoing and there is strong interest in the player. We will see what happens. The transfer window is open and a move may happen.

"It's never a done deal until it's over the line but we recognise Paul is a fantastic talent and we will not stand in his way. At the moment we expect Paul to play against Ballymena United on Saturday and we will see how things progress over the week."

Smyth's team-mate and summer signing Robert Garrett, however, is hoping Linfield can keep hold of the attacker, who underlined his growing importance with a goal in the Blues' 4-0 win at Dungannon at the weekend.

"The wee man's electric - he's top class and I just hope he can keep doing it for us," the midfielder said. "I haven't heard too much about it, but I really hope he stays here."

The 4-0 win at Stangmore Park maintained the Blues' perfect start to the new season. It is now 16 wins from a possible 17 in the league - a run stretching back to early January. Garrett admits there is huge belief among the squad.

"Confidence is high, especially with the run the team went on towards the end of last season," he added. "We've carried it on into this season and the place is buzzing.

"We know we still have to go out with the right attitude, as we did (on Saturday) against a Dungannon side who always make it difficult."

Smyth got Linfield's first with a smart header. A superb strike from Niall Quinn, an own goal and a late Andrew Mitchell penalty saw the Blues run out easy winners.

Garrett was pleased with Linfield's clinical edge in front of goal and believes they still have room for improvement.

"It's always nice to score four goals - especially at Dungannon, as it is always a tough place to come," he added. "I thought they were alright, but I think we took our chances in the first half and that killed the game off.

"I don't think we were near our best and I don't remember all that many other chances. We've been creating a lot recently and missing, so it was pleasing to take our chances against Dungannon."

Linfield, who sit second in the Danske Bank Premiership on goal difference, host Ballymena United this weekend.

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