The Loan Ranger
QPR loanee Jay Simpson tells Chris Burton that he is still confident of making the grade at Arsenal.
Last Updated: 31/10/09 3:10pm
It can be tough for any up and coming whippersnapper to catch the eye at a Premier League club, with the youth ranks becoming increasingly detached from the senior side.
Success has become the be all and end all, meaning many managers are reluctant to give potential an opportunity to shine when they can go out and buy a ready-made option for any given area of their side.
This makes it increasingly difficult for youngsters to make the step-up into the big time, with their route often blocked by experienced internationals.
The current economic unrest may have opened the door slightly, with clubs keen to tighten the purse strings, but it is yet to be kicked down.
One of the few clubs who are willing to give the stars of tomorrow an opportunity in the spotlight is Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger renowned for his ability to polish rough diamonds and make them sparkle.
Think Ashley Cole, David Bentley, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Nicklas Bendtner.
In the years to come expect to add to that list the likes of Carlos Vela, Craig Eastmond, Fran Merida, Sanchez Watt, Mark Randall and Jack Wilshere.
Refreshingly, four of those mentioned above will be eligible for England should they go on to scale the heights, helping to break the widely held opinion that Arsenal only produce foreign stars.
Another Englishman who will be hoping he can make the grade at Emirates Stadium is local lad Jay Simpson.
Born a stone's throw away from White Hart Lane, the jet-heeled frontman is a true North London native.
Nothing would give him greater pleasure than turning out in the red and white of his beloved Gunners on a regular basis, and he is determined to do just that.
Now 20 years old, Simpson has spent much of the last three seasons working on his trade away from the Gunners, taking in loan spells at Millwall, West Brom and Queens Park Rangers.
He will spend the entire 2009/10 campaign at Loftus Road, and has already made quite an impression in the second tier.
Skysports.com's Chris Burton recently caught up with the former England U18 international to gain an insight into his ambitions for the future and check on his progress under the guidance of Jim Magilton.
"I want to play regularly and the manager (Wenger) told me that I wouldn't be playing regularly. He gets my respect for that and encouraging me to go out on loan," Simpson said.
Wenger has, however, assured him that he remains part of his long-term plans.
"From what he says I am," added Simpson.
"He wanted me to go out and get used to scoring goals regularly and take in another season out on loan. I don't know what will happen when I go back to Arsenal, but I'm just focused on what I'm doing here for now."
Simpson was hot property over the summer when it became apparent he was available for another loan stint.
Numerous clubs courted his services, but he felt ambitious QPR would provide him with the ideal opportunity to showcase his considerable talent.
He said: "There were a few clubs interested but I went down and met with Jim Magilton and John Gorman and I was impressed by what they had to say, the direction they want to take the club. They sold the club to me and it was a plus that there were a few players here already that I knew.
"It can be difficult changing clubs every year, but a lot of the boys are from the same sort of area of London as me. I knew that before I came here. They have helped me to settle in - people like Fitz Hall and Patrick Agyemang have really helped."
Simpson accepts that he cannot wait patiently for an opportunity to come along at Arsenal forever, though, as eventually there will come a time when he has to think about the direction his career is heading.
However, for now, he is happy to be playing regular first-team football at a club competing towards the top of the Championship table.
"I agree," he said when asked whether he may be forced to look elsewhere in the future.
"But if the manager is telling me that he wants me there, then I want to play. If he had said to me that he didn't think it was going to work, I would have looked for another club.
"From my experiences of going out on loan it's a very positive thing to do. You get to play every week in the first team, playing for points. It's a really good opportunity to go out and see what football is all about.
"The last two times I've been out on loan it's been with teams fighting for survival, but at QPR we are fighting for success. It will definitely be a positive experience and I think it will do me the world of good."
Simpson admits he faced a steep learning curve during his time at West Brom last season.
He joined the Baggies for the second half of the campaign, with the Midlands-based outfit already seemingly doomed for the drop.
He was unable to produce his best at The Hawthorns, but admits he is stronger for the experiences he gained.
"It was difficult," he said.
"I went in there when they were bottom of the table. It was a tall order, but we played some good football considering where we were in the table. Tony Mowbray gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League, so it was great experience for me."
His time with West Brom certainly appears to have helped improve his game, with his flying start to the new season drawing plaudits from across the football fraternity.
Playing for a side overloaded with attacking talent has certainly helped, and Simpson is relishing the opportunity to figure in such a forward-thinking side.
He said: "Playing in that team, I know I'm going to get at least one opportunity every game. We have got a lot of creative players, like Wayne Routledge and Adel Taarabt, so you know they are going to provide chances for you. I'm enjoying it at the moment.
"It's great to be scoring goals (six in ten league outings to be precise). It breeds confidence. I'm playing my part in getting the team up the table. It's great at the moment."
Promotion is now the ambition for Rangers, with the club having last plied their trade in the top flight way back in 1995/96.
Only three defeats so far this season bodes well for Magilton's men and Simpson admits expectations must start being matched at Loftus Road.
"I think with the structure of the club, a lot of people expected QPR to be up there, at least top six," he said.
"The players, we all believed that we could be in the top six by the end of the season. We have gone really well so far, and everyone is confident, so I don't see why we can't do that.
"I haven't been here too long, but the players have a lot of ambition and they all want the same thing - to get promoted and play in the Premier League."
With goals already under his belt, a promotion push on the horizon and Wenger a keen admirer from afar, Simpson is also hoping to add international recognition to his ever-growing list of achievements.
Having represented his country at U17 and U18 level, the next logical step for him is to force his way into Stuart Pearce's U21 plans.
"I hope so. I think that will come with playing well," he added.
"I have been doing the right things and hopefully if I can keep that up, a call-up will follow. Everyone wants to play for their country, so I will be trying my best to get in there."
The signs appear promising and should he receive a call from Pearce, that would serve to further strengthen his quest to fulfil his childhood dreams and become a mainstay in the Arsenal first team.