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Masterson's display in win over Leeds prompts u-turn from QPR boss

The Ireland U21 defender marked his full Championship debut with a very impressive performance.

QPR defender Conor Masterson (file pic).
QPR defender Conor Masterson (file pic).
Image: Mark Kerton/EMPICS Sport

QUEENS PARK RANGERS manager Mark Warburton admitted that Conor Masterson has forced him into a change of heart over a potential loan move for the Irish defender during the January transfer window.

Warburton said a fortnight ago that there’s “a very good chance” Masterson will temporarily leave the Championship club this month in order to increase his exposure to competitive senior football elsewhere.

However, the Republic of Ireland U21 international appears to have prompted a u-turn from the QPR boss with his performance in his full Championship debut.

Masterson earned the man-of-the-match award in his first league start, which came in Saturday’s home game against second-placed Leeds United.

The 21-year-old centre-back produced a very impressive display, playing all 90 minutes of a 1-0 victory as Leeds failed to capitalise on an opportunity to regain top spot.

“Probably not after that,” Warburton said, when asked if he’s still considering sending Masterson out on loan. “It’s stating the obvious, but probably not.”

A taste of first-team action at QPR had been a long time coming for Masterson, who joined the club last summer after being released by Liverpool.

The Kildare native made his debut for his new club in a 5-1 win over Swansea City in the FA Cup third round earlier this month, before coming off the bench at half-time in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Brentford in the Championship.

“He did well against Swansea, did well in the second half at Brentford and deserved to start,” Warburton added. “A lot of thought went into that. Toni Leistner was fit, Ryan Manning was fit and a lot of thought went into whether it was the right thing to play Conor.

“But you saw his response today. He was excellent for a young player. He was asked to plug a gap, did really well and you take your chances when they come along — that’s football, that’s life in general.”

Masterson is currently a member of the Republic of Ireland U21 squad. He won 10 caps for Stephen Kenny’s side in 2019. 

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Paul Dollery

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