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Furlong makes return in friendly

DARNELL Furlong came through 45 minutes of action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against West Ham on Thursday afternoon.

The R’s ran out 3-1 winners but, more importantly, Furlong played the first half without any reaction following knee surgery in July.

“It was a tough game to return to but it felt great to be back,” the defender told www.qpr.co.uk.

“The plan was always to play the first half because the physios want to slowly build my fitness levels up.

“I thought I did well and actually asked the physios if I could stay on for an extra 15 minutes but they were having none of it! I fully understand that.

I just can’t wait for training on Monday now.”

Furlong returned to full training ten days ago and his outing against the Hammers signals the beginning of the end to a tough spell on the sidelines.

The QPR academy product looked set to start the season as Steve McClaren’s first-choice right-back, having featured prominently during pre-season before suffering a torn knee ligament at AFC Wimbledon just three weeks before the campaign began.

“It’s the longest injury I’ve had in my career so far,” the 22-year-old said. “It was really difficult mentally, particularly at the start.

“I got the injury on the Saturday and had the operation on the Tuesday, so it was all done really quickly which was good.

“But when I returned to the training ground and saw the lads all getting their boots on to train I was so gutted – I was nearly in tears!”

Furlong has worked hard since then to ensure his recovery has been as quick as possible, and is grateful for the support from those around him.

“My family have been brilliant,” he added. “They have been so supportive. Aaron (Harris, Head Physio) has been great, Dan (Bernardin, Strength & Conditioning Coach) has worked so much with me and I’m really grateful to them.”

Furlong’s next target is to increase his match minutes with the Under-23s before aiming for his first competitive appearance of the campaign.

I just can’t wait for training on Monday now.

Darnell Furlong