Millwall v QPR
JORDAN HUGILL is QPR’s new goalscoring hero and is happy just to be catching the eye for the right reasons this season. The on-loan West Ham striker has scored five goals in seven games since joining the Hoops in July and has made a fine impression in boss Mark Warburton’s first season in charge at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Hugill’s career has not been without its struggles since a flying start to 2017/18 with Preston was rewarded with an £8million January move.
All that produced were three substitute appearances and, while he is still technically a Hammers player, this is Hugill’s second season-long loan since Manuel Pellegrini took charge.
But the 27-year-old, who spent last year at Middlesbrough, clearly does not regret his move to east London.
‘I learnt more about football in the six months at West Ham than at any other time,’ Hugill tells Metro ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Millwall.
‘I might not have been playing but I was around world-class players. It was the biggest learning curve I’ve had and people might think I shouldn’t have been there, but I deserved that move.’
Hugill, who worked in a bar while he played in non-league for the likes of Whitby and Consett, admits despite scoring seven goals for hometown club Middlesbrough last term there was little chance of him returning for a second spell after Jonathan Woodgate’s appointment in the summer.
‘I’m not sure — I didn’t pursue that too much,’ he says.
‘At Middlesbrough things just didn’t happen — nothing against Middlesbrough, that’s my club, where I grew up and was a season-ticket holder. I love that club to death. But sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go. To come here has been a breath of fresh air and I’m enjoying playing and scoring goals.’
Hugill is in his most prolific form since ten goals in half a season at Preston, while last Saturday’s 3-2 win over Luton left the Hoops just outside the Championship play-off places.
The striker admits: ‘Everyone wants to start well, performance-wise. The main thing for me is the team’s performing well regardless of how I’m doing. It might be my name in the headlines but it’s about the team.
‘It’s a team that creates chances and the way I’ve started I’m going into games thinking I’m going to score one if not two. That’s my mindset at the moment. From the moment I arrived here I felt like I was at Preston again.’
It has not all been plain sailing, though, and he was targeted by QPR fans after an awful miss against Wigan last month, despite scoring in the same game. ‘I can laugh about it — if I’d not scored the much harder chance I’d have got more abuse,’ Hugill adds. ‘I knew it was bad.
‘But the manager instilled confidence in me straight away and I’ve always said if you give me the chances I’ll score goals. He knew I’d fit the system and that’s been right so far.
‘The manager made the effort to go out of his way to meet me, to speak to me and get across his point of view.’
■ 2 — Years Hugill spent learning his trade at the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain from 2010 to 2012
■ 5 — Non-league clubs hugill played for — Seaham Red Star, Consett, Whitby, Marske and Gateshead — before making his name at Preston