Home Global Game Europe What a difference a season makes: Hoilett goes from hot transfer target to QPR’s fringes

What a difference a season makes: Hoilett goes from hot transfer target to QPR’s fringes

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At the outset of 2012, Canadian soccer supporters wondered if convincing Junior Hoilett to play for the national side would be the difference between being knocked out in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying or making it to the Hex.

At the outset of 2013, Hoilett is simply fighting for the chance to preserve his Premiership career.

How things have changed in just a matter of months: At this time last year, the kid from Brampton, Ont., was the best thing about a bad Blackburn team. Because Rovers were in a relegation season, Hoilett’s name was attached to some of the hottest transfer rumours in Europe. Would he go to the Bundesliga? Tottenham? Arsenal? And, as has been the case, his camp continued to reject the Canadian Soccer Association’s pleas to come join the national side. As always, the word was that Hoilett had to wait until his European career was in a better place, till he was settled.

Now, you could argue that it’s been years since he’s been this unsettled. He signed with QPR in the off-season, a move to a London club which had decided to open the wallets. But, so far, it wouldn’t be unfair to speak of the move as disastrous.

QPR enters its Wednesday match with Chelsea in last place — and, based on recent listless performances, you’d have to bet that the club will be headed out of the Premiership this spring. (UPDATE: Hoilett started his first game in almost two months, but lasted just 16 minutes before leaving with a hamstring problem. But QPR stunned Chelsea, 1-0.)

Worse yet for Hoilett, he can’t get into the starting XI on a last-place side that looks like it could use help in each and every position on the field. He hasn’t started a match since Nov. 17; a 3-1 loss to Southampton in which, ironically, he scored. In December, QPR played six Premiership matches. In those six, Hoilett made three sub appearances. His total time on the pitch was less than 90 minutes.

In fact, he has spent more time on the pitch for QPR’s U-21 side in December. He scored a hat trick in a Dec. 17 8-2 win over Colchester, a game which also featured a goal from ex-TFC Academy teen Dylan Carreiro.

In mid-December, new QPR boss Harry Redknapp moaned to the press about the number of overpaid players at his club who were underperforming. While he didn’t name any specific player, the fact that Hoilett hasn’t started since Redknapp took over as the club’s manager is telling.

Last year, we were wondering if Hoilett could save Canada. Now, on a flagging side that’s exiled him to the bench, Hoilett needs to save himself. With the Gold Cup coming this summer, you wonder if Hoilett could choose Canada, to see if he can get the same boosts that forwards Simeon Jackson and Tosaint Ricketts have received when their careers have been unsettled. For Jackson, he was able to use some good national-team vibes to make a case for more playing time at Norwich, while Ricketts scored for the national side as he waited for an international dispute over his contract to be settled. The national side served them as much as they served it. If Hoilett doesn’t see an increase in his QPR playing time, should a symbiotic national-team relationship enter his mind?

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