MATT Ingram admits the departure of Alex Smithies gives him and the rest of QPR’s goalkeepers fresh opportunity to stake their place for the number one jersey.
Ingram is in Portugal for the R’s pre-season training camp alongside fellow custodians Joe Lumley and Seny Dieng while Smithies swapped west London for Wales with a move to newly-promoted Cardiff City on Thursday.
Smithies’ form between the sticks saw Ingram’s chances limited since arriving in January 2016, but the latter wishes his former team-mate well in the top flight as the battle for a starting spot in W12 resumes.
“Alex has done fantastically well for the club and he deserves his chance in the Premier League,” Ingram told www.qpr.co.uk. “I’m sure he’ll take it with both hands.
“For the likes of me, Joe and Seny, it’s a big opportunity now to impress the new manager.
“Has it changed my mindset? Not at all. It might just give me more of an opportunity because he’s not here. I was always pushing for that number one spot – Alex was just doing so well I couldn’t get in!”
As for the pressure on the shoulders of whoever replaces Smithies in goal, Ingram added: “There’s always pressure in football – especially replacing someone like Alex who’s done so well.
Ingram joined QPR in January 2016.
“It’s about blocking that pressure out, that’s what the good footballers do.”
Ingram also praised goalkeeping coach Gavin Ward for his work behind the scenes, adding: “He deserves a lot of credit.
“He worked with Alex the whole time he’s been here, he’s worked with me the whole time I’ve been here and he’s brought Joe on loads too.
“We all wouldn’t be where we are without his support and his coaching. We’ve very grateful for that and looking forward to learning more.”
Ingram believes the early signs are good under the new management team, as Steve McClaren gets to work for the first time with his new squad in the stunning surroundings of Lagos.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Ingram said.
“We came here last year so we knew what to expect. The facilities are fantastic so there’s certainly no complaints.
“The gaffer’s brought a good team in with new ideas and new things to work on. The lads have come back fit and are looking sharp, and we’re all looking forward to preparing for the new season over the next few weeks.”