IT WAS a case of third time lucky for Hogan Ephraim this week when he was named in QPR’s 25-man squad.
The 24 year-old missed out twice last season, initially under former manager Neil Warnock, and the midfielder told www.qpr.co.uk: “I got there eventually!”
Over the summer, Hughes brought in Ji-Sung Park, Samba Diakite, Junior Hoilett and Esteban Granero to bolster his options in the middle of the park, while Kieron Dyer has also made a successful return from injury.
Some people felt that such an influx would see Ephraim heading for the exit door at Loftus Road after almost five years with the club.
And he is honest enough to admit he, too, feared his days at QPR could be coming to an end.
“I wondered if I would be surplus to requirements this season with all the new players coming in, but that just gave me an added incentive to work hard” he said.
“I am happy. When you see the amount of quality players we’ve got here, it’s great that I have managed to make the squad.”
Hughes said publicly, as well as privately to Ephraim, that the former West Ham man would be in his squad. But that did little to ease the tension in the lead up to the 25-man list being announced.
“There’s always that nagging doubt that you won’t make it,” Ephraim said. “I was told at the start of last season that I would be in the squad and then didn’t make it, so it was great to be included this time.
“I found out through Twitter! I went on there and had loads of messages from people congratulating me for making the squad. I was happy when I saw that!
“But now I want to kick on and get into the 18-man squad on a matchday, not just the 25.”
Ephraim hasn’t managed to do that in the opening three Premier League fixtures but he is ready for the challenge.
“I like to play football, I don’t want to be sitting there watching it, so that’s the next target for me,” he added.
“It would be an achievement in itself just to make the matchday squad. Every player here knows that if you’re not playing well, you are likely to find yourself out of the team.
“There’s incredible quality in every position now. Everybody is kept on their toes and that’s exactly what the club needs.
“Competition for places can only help everyone. That includes me. I am going to keep working hard. I may not be as big a name as some of the other players in the dressing room but I will work just as hard as them and try my best.
“Hopefully with the quality I have that will be enough for me to make the 18. That’s the aim for me now.”
With Rangers looking to push on after successfully protecting their Premier League status last term, Ephraim says there is a good feeling around the place.
“I am loving it here,” he beamed. “The atmosphere is great.
“Training is enjoyable and everyone is walking around with a smile on their face. I am very, very happy right now.”